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Neurophysiological Correlates of the Near-Miss Effect in Gambling

Abstract

The near-miss effect in gambling refers to a losing situation that is (or perceived to be) close to a win by the gambler. This effect is one of the many cognitive distortions that can occur during gambling games. The main objective of the present study was to analyze the electrophysiological correlates of the near-miss effect via an event-related potential (ERP) study examining four distinct gambling outcomes: win, full miss, near-miss before the payline, and near-miss after the payline. This study comprised 23 healthy voluntary participants (10 women) with ages ranging between 19 and 34 years (M = 22.5; SD = 3.65). All participants completed the South Oaks Gambling Screen and played a computerized slot machine, programed to induce the near-miss effect and specifically designed for an ERP study. By splitting the near-miss effect in two subtypes (before and after the payline), increased feedback-related negativity (FRN) was found for the near-misses after the payline in comparison to losses and also to near-misses before the payline. Results also indicated an increased P300 amplitude for the near-misses before the payline compared both with losses and with near-misses after the payline. The results suggest that both FRN and P300 present different sensitivities to near-miss subtypes, suggesting a payline effect that is not demonstrated when the data of near-misses before and after the payline are analyzed together. This is the first study to analyze the effect of the near-miss subtype in an ERP study and confirms the findings of previous behavioral studies.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to G. Sescousse for his comments and suggestions.

Funding

This work was supported by the COST ACTION 16207—European Network for Problematic Usage of the Internet COST-ITCCG-CA16207-347.

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Correspondence to Artemisa Rocha Dores.

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Conflict of interest

Part of this work was previously presented at the 5th International Conference on Behavioral Addictions 2018 and Lisbon Addictions 2019. The authors report no conflict of interest with respect to the content of this manuscript.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

The study was approved by the ethics committee of the research team’s university and followed the Declaration of Helsinki, the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and General Data Protection Regulation recently approved (2016) for EU countries.

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The data were collected in accordance with established ethical standards, namely “informed consent”.

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Dores, A.R., Rocha, A., Paiva, T. et al. Neurophysiological Correlates of the Near-Miss Effect in Gambling. J Gambl Stud 36, 653–668 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-020-09937-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-020-09937-2

Keywords

  • Near-miss effect
  • Near-miss before
  • Near-miss after
  • EEG
  • ERP
  • P300
  • FRN