Your Brain Playing a Slot Machine

 

 

Video Transcript:

 

Have you ever wondered what your brain is doing while you’re playing a slot machine? Well, a group of scientists asked that same question and what they found might surprise you.

 

These scientists took two groups of people: gambling addicts and people who don’t have a problem with gambling, and they looked at their brains while they were playing slot machines.

 

So basically there’s three outcomes from playing a slot machine. Number one: You win. If you look at the brains of the addicts and the non-addicts when they win, both brains get excited. Everybody loves to win.

 

The second option is of course to lose, and both the brains of the addicts and the non-addicts didn’t like losing. Their brain got upset as if they wanted to walk away.

 

But there’s a third option with a slot machine. Have you ever been playing and it goes cherry, cherry, almost cherry, and then slips to diamond? That’s called the near-miss. If you looked at the non-addict’s brain, their brain treated the near-miss like a loss. They wanted to run away from the machine. But the addict’s brain, when they saw the near-miss, got even more excited than if they won. It’s believed that that excitement drives the addict to put more coins in the machine when they experience the near-miss. Brain scientists figured this out recently, but casinos figured this out a long time ago and have been programming their machines for more near-misses because they see how it gets people excited.

 

Another place where you’ll see the near-miss is the lottery. Have you ever scratched off a lottery ticket and you think you’re almost going to win, that’s another near-miss. These are some interesting examples where two brains can look at the same thing and have a very different reaction.

 

If you’d like to find out more about addiction in the brain, you can check out this video. I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope this information doesn’t get my kneecaps broken.

 

Thanks for watching A Dose of Science!

 

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