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Repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty can even change how you respond to losing.

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Counterintuitively, in individuals with a gambling problem, losing money comes to trigger the rewarding release of dopamine almost to the same degree that winning does. As a result, in problem gamblers, losing sets off the urge to keep playing, rather than the disappointment that might prompt you to walk away, a phenomenon known as chasing losses. But gambling is more than just winning and losing.

It can be a whole immersive environment with an array of flashing lights and sounds. This is particularly true in a busy casino, but even a game or gambling app on a smartphone includes plenty of audio and visual frills to capture your attention.

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But are they just frills? Studies suggest that these lights and sounds become more attractive and capable of triggering urges to play when they are paired with reward uncertainty. In particular, win-associated cues — such as jingles that vary in length and size as a function of jackpot size — both increase excitement and lead gamblers to overestimate how often they are winning.

Crucially, they can also keep you gambling longer and encourage you to play faster. Since games of chance are set up so the house always has an advantage, a gambler wins infrequently at best. You might only rarely experience the lights and sounds that come along with hitting a true jackpot. However, the gaming industry may have devised a way to overcome that issue.

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Over the last few decades, casinos and game manufacturers significantly upgraded slot machines, retiring the old mechanical arms and reels in favor of electronic versions known as electronic gaming machines. These new computerized games and online slots come with more attractive colorful lights and a variety of sounds. They also possess more reels, ushering in a new era of multi-line video slot machines. Having multiple lines enables players to place a bunch of bets per spin, often up to 20 or more. Although each individual bet can be small, many players place the maximum number of bets on each spin.

This strategy means a player can win on some lines while losing on others, netting less than the original wager. The result is that these multi-line slot machines produce more enjoyment and are highly preferred by players.


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The dramatic increase in the frequency of wins, whether real or fabricated, produces more arousal and activation of reward pathways in the brain, possibly accelerating the rate at which brain changes occur. The rise of electronic gambling machines also means that rather than being constrained by the physical arrangement of different possible outcomes on each reel, possible outcomes are programmed onto a set of virtual reels. Gaming designers can therefore stack the deck to make certain events occur more frequently than others.

This includes near-misses, where one of the reels stops just short of lining up for a jackpot. This phenomenon is not confined to slot machines and casinos. Near-misses are more arousing than losses — despite being more frustrating and significantly less pleasant than missing by a longshot. But crucially, almost winning triggers a more substantial urge to play than even winning itself.

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Near-misses seem to be highly motivating and increase player commitment to a game, resulting in individuals playing longer than they intended. When you engage in recreational gambling, you are not simply playing against the odds, but also battling an enemy trained in the art of deceit and subterfuge. Games of chance have a vested interest in hooking players for longer and letting them eventually walk away with the impression they did better than chance, fostering a false impression of skill.

For many people, these carefully designed outcomes enhance the satisfaction they get from gambling. It may remain easy for them to simply walk away when the chips run out. Since ZAld is not an essential constituent of the sex pheromone [17] and consequently there is no evidence that its related formate is behaviorally active, we decided to select AtraOR1 to investigate whether a pheromone receptor is equally activated by a known aldehyde pheromone [14] and its behaviorally active formate analog [13].

We then performed RT-PCR analysis to determine whether our selected OR is indeed expressed in male antennae as implied by the above-described electrophysiological recordings.

Not surprisingly, AtraOrco was expressed in both male and female antennae, with minor expression in other non-olfactory tissues Figure 4 , while expression of AtraOR3 was biased to female antennae. The odorant receptor co-receptor, AtraOrco, was expressed equally in male and female antennae. The formate analog showed not only a lower threshold, but the dose-dependence curve for the parapheromone was shifted by at least one order of magnitude, with EC 50 of nM and 90 nM for aldehyde and formate, respectively. Note the curve generated by challenging the oocytes with the formate analog is shifted at least one order of magnitude.

We are cognizant that vapor pressure differences may account in part for the indistinguishable dose-dependent responses observed by SSR Figure 1. As the boiling point of formate analogs are lower than the those of related aldehydes, puffs at the same source dose are expected to release relatively more molecules of a formate than an aldehyde of equivalent molecular weight e. However, in the Xenopus oocyte recording system vapor pressure differences are not relevant as odorants are delivered in aqueous phase.

Identity of the major peak in each sample was confirmed by its mass spectrum data not shown. As expected for high purity samples and given the inert nature of the DMSO containing Ringer solution, the nominal and measured concentrations of the two odorants were nearly identical Figure 7. These findings demonstrate that in the Xenopus oocyte recording system an OR sensitive to an aldehyde pheromone was not only deceived by a formate analog, but also responded to the parapheromone with higher sensitivity than to the natural constituent of the sex pheromone system.

Representative traces obtained with the main constituent of the sex pheromone blue trace and its related formate red. Small peaks eluting just prior to the main peaks are stereoisomers of sex pheromone and parapheromone. The peaks of the formate analog and the related aldehyde pheromone are of nearly the same intensity thus confirming that oocytes are stimulated with nearly the same concentrations of the two compounds.

To compare our findings using a pheromone-sensitive OR from the navel orangeworm with a known pheromone receptor from another moth species, we tested an aldehyde receptor from H. With clones kindly provided by Dr. We prepared samples of the main constituent of the sex pheromone, ZAld, and a behaviorally active formate analog, ZOFor, analyzed aliquots to make certain they were of the same concentration, and then challenged oocyte preparations.

It is therefore likely that stronger response elicited by a formate analog than to the natural aldehyde pheromone is a common feature of moth ORs in line with practical observations that these esters can be used to replace less stable aldehydes in mating disruption [25] , [26] and other pheromone applications. Single sensillum unit recordings SSR were performed as previously reported [27].

Dubnary, CT. Just prior to use they were brought to room temperature and while an oocyte preparation was being washed with Ringer's solution, stock solutions were diluted in 0. The concentrations of ligands in figures are nominal undiluted concentrations, which were used to challenge the oocyte preparations.

Dose-dependent curves were obtained with lower concentrations; buffer alone control generate no detectable inward curent. EC 50 s were calculated on the basis of the actual concentrations the oocytes were exposed to, i. Their concentrations were compared by quantifying these hexane extracts by gas chromatography GC. These chemical analyses were performed as previously described [29] , with a different temperature program.

PCR fragments were cloned into pBluescript and sequenced. PCR products were visualized on 1. The resultant products were cloned into pPCR-Script and the nucleotide sequence was determined.


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PCR conditions were as mentioned above. Jurgen Krieger University of Hohenheim, Germany. We thank Dr. Roberto Bedoukian for pheromone and parapheromone samples, Dr. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. The funders played no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS One. Published online Jul Pingxi Xu , 1 Stephen F.

Vidal , 1 Caio H. Zitelli , 1 and Walter S. Stephen F. Diogo M.

Introduction

Caio H. Walter S. Michel Renou, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received May 22; Accepted Jun Copyright Xu et al.

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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The insect's olfactory system is so selective that male moths, for example, can discriminate female-produced sex pheromones from compounds with minimal structural modifications. Introduction Insects achieve their prominence through successful reproduction, which in turn relies heavily on an acute olfactory system.

Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Responses of the peripheral olfactory system of the navel orangeworm to the major constituent of the sex pheromone and its formate analog. Identification of an odorant receptor co-receptor and odorant receptors Previously, we have identified a partial cDNA sequence from the navel orangeworm encoding a putative ORlike odorant receptor [18] , which we renamed AtraOrco given the new nomenclature for odorant receptor co-receptors [19]. Figure 2. Screening of AtraOR1. Figure 3. Figure 4.