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Authors: Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King and Neophytos Georgiou

Abstract

Background

Engagement in responsible or ‘positive play’ strategies is known to be negatively associated with problem gambling, as indexed by measures such as the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Less is known about whether positive play is associated with reduced harm or a greater ability to enjoy the recreational benefits of gambling.

Aims

This study investigated the relationship between positive play and gambling harm after controlling for PGSI scores and whether positive play moderated the relationship between PGSI scores and harm. It also examined whether positive play was related to perceived benefits associated with gambling.

Methods

The study utilised an online panel sample of 554 respondents who completed a survey that included the PGSI, measures of gambling harm drawn from Browne et al. (2016), and the newly developed Positive Play Scale (Wood et al., 2019). The study involved predominantly monthly gamblers with higher levels of gambling risk: 23% problem gamblers; 36% moderate risk; and 21% low risk gamblers.

Results

The results indicated that positive play was negatively associated with reduced gambling harm. The behavioural Positive Play subscales relating to pre-commitment and honesty and control explained additional variation in harm after controlling for PGSI scores. Higher levels of positive play also moderated and reduced the relationship between the PGSI and gambling harm. Perceived benefits were, unexpectedly, found to be higher in problem gamblers and negatively related to positive play.

Conclusion

Behavioural measures of positive play appear to be useful moderating factors in understanding the relationship between problem gambling and harm. Higher-risk gamblers appear to experience both greater costs as well as benefits from gambling, which likely reflects a stronger personal need to engage in the activity.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Although family history of psychiatric disorders has often been considered potentially useful in understanding clinical presentations in patients, it is less clear what a positive family history means for people who gamble in the general community. We sought to understand the clinical and cognitive impact of having a first-degree relative with a substance use disorder (SUD) in a sample of non-treatment seeking young adults.

Methods

576 participants (aged 18–29 years) who gambled at least five times in the preceding year undertook clinical and neurocognitive evaluations. Those with a first-degree relative with a SUD were compared to those without on a number of demographic, clinical and cognitive measures. We used Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression to identify which variables (if any) were significantly associated with family history of SUDs, controlling for the influence of other variables on each other.

Results

180 (31.3%) participants had a first-degree family member with a SUD. In terms of clinical variables, family history of SUD was significantly associated with higher rates of substance use (alcohol, nicotine), higher rates of problem gambling, and higher occurrence of mental health disorders. Family history of SUD was also associated with more set-shifting problems (plus higher rates of obsessive-compulsive tendencies), lower quality of decision-making, and more spatial working memory errors.

Conclusions

These results indicate that gamblers with a first-degree family member with a SUD may have a unique clinical and cognition presentation. Understanding these differences may be relevant to developing more individualized treatment approaches for disordered gambling. Compulsivity may be important as a proxy of vulnerability towards addiction.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Strategic games, such as poker, require gamblers to develop several skills to perform better than others and to expect a potential gain. Players must remain as unpredictable and unreadable as possible by inhibiting the expression of their emotions in response to both good and bad poker events. The aim of the present study was to compare several aspects of the inhibition process in experienced poker gamblers and controls to better understand how inhibitory control is involved in poker performance.

Methods

Thirty experienced non-pathological poker gamblers (EG) and thirty healthy controls with no or limited poker experience (HC) completed 3 cognitive tasks. Each task measured a specific type of inhibition: motor inhibition [Go/No-Go task], verbal inhibition [Hayling Sentence Completion Task] and expressive inhibition [expressive suppression task, which combines subjective, expressive (facial EMG) and physiological (skin conductance, heart interbeat interval, cardiovascular and respiratory activation) measures of emotional experience]. Linear mixed models with random effects were performed.

Results

Inhibitory control skills were similar between the two groups, regardless of the form of inhibition tested. The only difference observed in EG was a higher ability to partially suppress the physiological expression of emotion. However, this difference was only present for negative and positive emotional induction and was not maintained for emotional induction related to poker situations.

Discussion and conclusions

The development of specific inhibition skills in experienced poker gamblers was not supported and raises questions about the transferability of poker skills previously discussed in the literature.

Open access
Authors: Máté Kapitány-Fövény, Róbert Urbán, Gábor Varga, Marc N. Potenza, Mark D. Griffiths, Anna Szekely, Borbála Paksi, Bernadette Kun, Judit Farkas, Gyöngyi Kökönyei and Zsolt Demetrovics

Abstract

Background and aims

Due to its important role in both healthy groups and those with physical, mental and behavioral disorders, impulsivity is a widely researched construct. Among various self-report questionnaires of impulsivity, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale is arguably the most frequently used measure. Despite its international use, inconsistencies in the suggested factor structure of its latest version, the BIS-11, have been observed repeatedly in different samples. The goal of the present study was therefore to test the factor structure of the BIS-11 in several samples.

Methods

Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted on two representative samples of Hungarian adults (N = 2,457; N = 2,040) and a college sample (N = 765).

Results

Analyses did not confirm the original model of the measure in any of the samples. Based on explorative factor analyses, an alternative three-factor model (cognitive impulsivity; behavioral impulsivity; and impatience/restlessness) of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale is suggested. The pattern of the associations between the three factors and aggression, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and psychological distress supports the construct validity of this new model.

Discussion

The new measurement model of impulsivity was confirmed in two independent samples. However, it requires further cross-cultural validation to clarify the content of self-reported impulsivity in both clinical and nonclinical samples.

Open access
Authors: Daniel L. King, Paul H. Delfabbro, Joel Billieux and Marc N. Potenza

Abstract

Stay-at-home mandates and quarantines related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have led to greatly increased participation in online gaming. Initiatives such as #PlayApartTogether that promote gaming for socializing and stress reduction may achieve positive outcomes. Although gaming can be a healthy coping strategy for the majority, it can also pose risks to some vulnerable individuals. Protracted periods of social isolation and technology-based activity pose the danger of solidifying unhealthy lifestyle patterns, leading to difficulties to readaptation when the COVID-19 crisis has passed. Balanced and effective approaches to gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic are needed to support physical and psychological wellbeing.

Open access
Authors: Gemma Mestre-Bach, Gretchen R. Blycker and Marc N. Potenza

Abstract

With the global expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic, social or physical distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns have become more prevalent. Concurrently, Pornhub, one of the largest pornography sites, has reported increased pornography use in multiple countries, with global traffic increasing over 11% from late February to March 17, 2020. While some substantial increases have coincided with Pornhub making its premium services free to countries in lockdowned or quarantined jurisdictions, countries without such free premium access have also reported increases in the range of 4–24%. In addition, pornography searches using the terms “coronavirus”, “corona”, and “covid” have reached more than 9.1 million. In this letter, we discuss COVID-19-related pornography-use patterns and the impact they may have with respect to problematic pornography use.

Open access

Abstract

Objectives

Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is essential for the condition's diagnosis and treatment. Nevertheless, the pathological mechanisms of IGD remain elusive at present. Hence, we employed multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM) to explore this issue.

Methods

Resting-state fMRI data were collected from 103 IGD subjects (male = 57) and 99 well-matched recreational game users (RGUs, male = 51). Regional homogeneity was calculated as the feature for MVPA based on the support vector machine (SVM) with leave-one- out cross-validation. Mean time series data extracted from the brain regions in accordance with the MVPA results were used for further spDCM analysis.

Results

Results display a high accuracy of 82.67% (sensitivity of 83.50% and specificity of 81.82%) in the classification of the two groups. The most discriminative brain regions that contributed to the classification were the bilateral parahippocampal gyrus (PG), right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Significant correlations were found between addiction severity (IAT and DSM scores) and the ReHo values of the brain regions that contributed to the classification. Moreover, the results of spDCM showed that compared with RGU, IGD showed decreased effective connectivity from the left PG to the right MFG and from the right PG to the ACC and decreased self-connection in the right PG.

Conclusions

These results show that the weakening of the PG and its connection with the prefrontal cortex, including the ACC and MFG, may be an underlying mechanism of IGD.

Open access

Abstract

Aim

Critics of gaming disorder (GD; i.e., Internet gaming disorder in the DSM-5; Gaming disorder in the ICD-11) have expressed concerns about the potential risks of misclassification (e.g., false positives). An important consideration of relevance to this discussion is the extent to which commonly used screening instruments contain appropriate, sensible, and relevant items. The aim of this review was to evaluate the face validity of items within current tools for GD.

Methods

A systematic review of databases identified 29 instruments. An item bank (n = 417 items) was independently evaluated by three professional raters (i.e., a senior academic in clinical psychology, a senior psychometrician, and an academic/clinical psychologist) according to guidelines for defining and measuring addiction and gaming disorder.

Findings

Evaluation of the item bank identified issues related to: scope (i.e., “scope creep” or items of questionable relevance); language (i.e., confusing language, unusual wording or syntax); and overpathologizing (i.e., pathologizing typical and/or beneficial aspects or consequences of gaming). A total of 71 items across 23 tools had at least one face validity issue.

Conclusions

Most items (83%) demonstrated satisfactory face validity and were consistent with either the DSM-5 or ICD-11 GD classification. However, many tests contain at least one item that may pathologize normal gaming behaviors. Such items refer to basic changes in mood when gaming, a desire to play or continue playing games, and experiencing immersion when gaming. This analysis highlights the challenges of screening for problematic behaviors that are thought to arise within the context of normal recreational activities.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Diminished control over a specific behavior is a core characteristic in addictive behaviors such as problematic Internet-pornography (IP) use. First studies suggest that a hyperactivity of the impulsive system is one reason for impulsive behaviors in the context of problematic IP use. The tripartite-process theory of addiction explains neurocognitive mechanisms beyond common dual-process theories in addictive behaviors. However, the role of the reflective and interoceptive system is still unresolved.

Methods

The study comprised a stop-signal task (SST) including neutral and pornographic images during fMRI and questionnaires to investigate associations between symptoms of problematic IP use, craving, and neural activity of the impulsive, reflective, and interoceptive system. We examined 28 heterosexual males with varying symptom severity of problematic IP use.

Results

Data indicates that individuals with more symptoms of problematic IP use showed better performance in the SST which was linked to decreased insula and inferior frontal gyrus activity during pornographic image processing. An increase in craving was associated with lower activity of the ventral striatum during pornographic image processing. The interoceptive system showed varying effects. Increased insula activity during inhibitory control and decreased activity during pornographic image processing were associated with higher inhibitory control performance.

Discussion and Conclusion

Effects of tolerance and motivational aspects may explain the better inhibitory control performance in individuals with higher symptom severity which was associated with differential activity of the interoceptive and reflective system. Diminished control over IP use presumably results from the interaction between the impulsive, reflective, and interoceptive systems.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Given that Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has tentatively been included in DSM-5 as a psychiatric disorder, it is important that the effect of parental and peer attachment in the development of IGD is further explored.

Methods

Utilizing a longitudinal design, this study investigated the bidirectional association between perceived parent–adolescent attachment, peer attachment, and IGD among 1,054 first-year undergraduate students (58.8% female). The students provided demographic information (e.g., age, gender) and were assessed using the nine-item Internet Gaming Disorder Scale and the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment. Assessments occurred three times, six months apart (October 2017; April 2018; October 2018).

Results

Cross-lagged panel models suggested that IGD weakly predicted subsequent mother attachment but significantly negatively predicted father attachment. However, father and mother attachment did not predict subsequent IGD. Moreover, peer attachment had a bidirectional association with IGD. Furthermore, the model also demonstrated stable cross-sectional negative correlations between attachment and IGD across all three assessments.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings of the present study did not show a bidirectional association between parental attachment and IGD, but they did show a negative bidirectional association between peer attachment and IGD. The results suggested previous cross-sectional associations between IGD and attachment, with larger links among males than females at the first measurement point. We found that peer attachment negatively predicted subsequent IGD, which indicates that peer attachment plays an important role in preventing addictive gaming behaviors for university students.

Open access