Original Research ARTICLE
Endogenous cortisol levels are associated with an imbalanced striatal sensitivity to monetary versus non-monetary cues in pathological gamblers
- 1Reward and Decision Making Team, Centre de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS, UMR 5229, Lyon, France
- 2Neuroscience Department, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France
Pathological gambling is a behavioral addiction characterized by a chronic failure to resist the urge to gamble. It shares many similarities with drug addiction. Glucocorticoid hormones including cortisol are thought to play a key role in the vulnerability to addictive behaviors, by acting on the mesolimbic reward pathway. Based on our previous report of an imbalanced sensitivity to monetary versus non-monetary incentives in the ventral striatum of pathological gamblers (PGs), we investigated whether this imbalance was mediated by individual differences in endogenous cortisol levels. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and examined the relationship between cortisol levels and the neural responses to monetary versus non-monetary cues, while PGs and healthy controls were engaged in an incentive delay task manipulating both monetary and erotic rewards. We found a positive correlation between cortisol levels and ventral striatal responses to monetary versus erotic cues in PGs, but not in healthy controls. This indicates that the ventral striatum is a key region where cortisol modulates incentive motivation for gambling versus non-gambling related stimuli in PGs. Our results extend the proposed role of glucocorticoid hormones in drug addiction to behavioral addiction, and help understand the impact of cortisol on reward incentive processing in PGs.
Keywords: cortisol, reward, pathological gambling, fMRI, ventral striatum, addiction, incentive, glucocorticoid hormones
Citation: Li Y, Sescousse G and Dreher J-C (2014) Endogenous cortisol levels are associated with an imbalanced striatal sensitivity to monetary versus non-monetary cues in pathological gamblers. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 8:83. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00083
Received: 14 November 2013; Accepted: 25 February 2014;
Published online: 25 March 2014.
Edited by:Mike James Ferrar Robinson, Wesleyan University, USA
Reviewed by:Guido Van Wingen, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Netherlands
Eve Limbrick-Oldfield, University of Cambridge, UK
Copyright ©2014 Li, Sescousse and Dreher. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Yansong Li, Reward and Decision Making Team, Centre de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS, UMR 5229, 67 Boulevard Pinel, 69675, Lyon, France e-mail: email@example.com
†Present address: Guillaume Sescousse, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands