Master of Arts (MA)
The Gambling Task is a complex neuropsychological test (in the form of a card game) that examines the ability of individuals to assess potential immediate gains over long-term losses. Gambling Task performance has been examined in previous studies with individuals who are dependent on alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamine. These studies have shown that those who are dependent on the aforementioned substances perform more poorly on the Gambling Task than controls. Specifically, in relation to controls, drug/alcohol dependent individuals show impairment by tending to pick more cards that have large immediate gains and very large delayed punishers. The delayed punisher is larger than the immediate gain, so there is a net loss in play money. Individuals who are not dependent on substances tend to choose cards that yield small immediate gains and very small delayed punishers. The delayed punisher is smaller than the immediate gain, so there is a net increase in play money. In order to test the hypothesis that heavy smokers display the same pattern of decision-making, the Gambling Task was administered to a sample of 40 participants (23 heavy smokers and 17 never-smokers). Results indicated that heavy smokers performed more poorly on the Gambling Task than non-smoking controls. Specifically, heavy smokers chose more cards from the decks with large delayed punishers than did the control group.
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Businelle, Michael Shawn, "Heavy smokers choose large, immediate rewards with large penalties on a simulated task of gambling" (2003). LSU Master's Theses. 3523.