Research into pathological gambling with the help of pigeons

Much research has been done on gambling behavior. This includes looking at conditioning. Research would show that the slot machine is the most addictive.

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Much research has been conducted into the origins of gambling behavior since World War II. Conditioning was routinely assessed. A recent study would have revealed that the slot machine is the most addictive.


Leo Africanus described camel conditioning in 1557. (translation from 1665) > /p >

Conditioning is the process of making something or someone dependent on something or someone. Pavlov’s dog is the most well-known example of the Pavlovian reaction. Igor Pavlov, a Russian psychologist, was the first to name the phenomenon of conditioning. For hundreds of years, it had been known that it worked.

The term operant conditioning was coined by American psychologist BF Skinner in 1938. That was two years after the death of Igor Pavlov, a Russian.

The distinction between conditioning and operant conditioning

Someone connects two conditions in normal conditioning (stimuli). When a bell rang, Pavlov’s dog was fed (condition 1). (condition 2). The dog had already begun to water when he heard the bell. The dog associated condition 2 with condition 1, without necessarily being fed afterwards. /p> /p> p> Operant conditioning employs the use of reward and punishment. In this way, a person or animal associates an action with something pleasant or unpleasant. A reward ensures that someone will perform the action more frequently in the future; a penalty reduces the action.

Pigeon experiments

Skinner conducted his research on pigeons. When she tapped a disc, they received food (reward) (action). That didn’t always happen; the food was delivered to their feeder at a random (random) interval. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. The pigeons, on the other hand, knew that if they tapped frequently enough, food would eventually appear.

Many people have done similar research after Skinner, including Skinner himself. Several researchers from various universities recently did the same thing with pigeons. The researchers wondered, for example, how and why some people sit at a slot machine for hours on end, even though they lose money. /p> h3> The impulsiveness of pigeons

Jennifer Laude and her colleagues at the University of Kentucky investigated impulsivity using pigeons. In their study, they gave pigeons two options: a low chance of 10 pieces of food and a 100% chance of 3 pieces. Pigeons almost always chose the bad option.

The researchers wondered if choosing the bad chance had anything to do with impulsiveness. They continued the investigation with a psychological classic: the deferred reward. It is a choice between the possibility of a small reward immediately or the certainty of a large reward later. The degree of impulsivity is determined by how long a person can wait for the big reward. Waiting longer means you’ll be less impulsive. /p> /p> p> The majority of pigeons proved to be impulsive. They preferred to eat a small amount of food right away rather than a large amount of food that required them to wait 20 seconds. This resulted in the conclusion in the pigeon research that the pigeons place more value on the possibility of winning than on the optimal chance of winning. Pigeons did not appear to consider the better chance. /p> /p> p> The researchers say it’s a phenomenon they’ve seen in problem gamblers as well. They don’t dwell on their losses and keep playing, hoping for a rare win. In psychology, this is referred to as an impulse control disorder, also known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. /p> h2> Gambling on a slot machine for brain research h2> /h2> p> Another study looked at brain cells in the prefrontal cortex when people bet on slot machines in New Zealand and Germany. The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision making, planning, and the previously mentioned impulse control. /p> /p> p> Pigeons were also used in this study. A room with black walls was constructed. It had a computer monitor with a transparent touch screen in front of it to record the reactions of the pigeons. The computer was running a program that looked like a slot machine with four images in a row. Even the lever was made into a function. /p> h3>Outcomes h3> /h3> p> In their slot machine-like experiment, the researchers discovered that four types of neurons were active. When the possibility of a reward appeared to be getting closer, activity in one type of neuron increased dramatically. Other neurons ‘fired’ in response to a four of a kind). /p> /p> p> Human and bird brains (dark parts are PFC and NCL, respectively)/p> Finally, there were neurons whose activity changed when it became clear that there would be no longer be a reward. It was critical for the study that the previous findings played a role in the latter type of neurons. This backs up previous scientific research into gambling behavior. In addition, the results show that the prefrontal cortex of humans and other primates, as well as the NCL (coudolateral nidopallium) of birds, have similar functions.

Is the slot machine truly addictive?

Many posts with the title “fruit machine the most addictive” (or something similar) incorrectly refer to the aforementioned studies. This could be because the researchers begin the summary of their report with the statement that the slot machine is the most addictive in the latter study. However, this is not addressed in the report.

Only a few times do the words addictive and similar words appear in both reports. However, the researchers never conclude that the slot machine is the most addictive. That is not to say that such a conclusion should not be reached.

Reality and experimentation

The second study’s researchers explain why their fruit machine experiment with pigeons differs little from a slot machine in a casino setting. They claim that gambling with a slot machine is so simple and requires so little brain activity that even pigeons can do it. The difference between a gambler and a pigeon, however, is that the pigeon does not engage in irrational behavior. For the pigeons, there was nothing at stake. This is true of the gambler. After all, he or she usually leaves the casino with less money than when he or she arrived.

Skinner stated in his book ‘Science and Human Behavior’ that a gambler at a slot machine does not care if he or she wins or loses. In the majority of cases, the gambler continues to play. Not by monetary gain, but by something else, such as dopamine. So Skinner was probably the first to notice that slot machines are the most addictive. h2>Sources/h2> /p> ul> li> li>Do pigeons gamble?/li> Brain Cells in the Avian “Prefrontal Cortex – Code for Slot-Machine-Like Gambling Features” /li> /li> li> Prefrontal cortices in birds and mammals /li> /li> li> BF Skinner’s ‘Science and Human Behavior’ /ul > /li>

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