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Increased functional connectivity in gambling disorder correlates with behavioural and emotional dysregulation: Evidence of a role for the cerebellum

  • Authors: Piccoli T.; Maniaci G.; Collura G.; Gagliardo C.; Brancato A.; La Tona G.; Gangitano M.; La Cascia C.; Picone F.; Marrale M.; Cannizzaro C.
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Gambling disorder (GD) is a psychiatric disease that has been recently classified as a behavioural addiction. So far, a very few studies have investigated the alteration of functional connectivity in GD patients, thus the concrete interplay between relevant function-dependent circuitries in such disease has not been comprehensively assessed. The aim of this research was to investigate resting-state functional connectivity in GD patients, searching for a correlation with GD symptoms severity. GD patients were assessed for gambling behaviour, impulsivity, cognitive distortions, anxiety and depression, in comparison with healthy controls (HC). Afterwards, they were assessed for resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging; functional connectivity was assessed through a data-driven approach, by using independent component analysis. The correlation between gambling severity and the strength of specific resting-state networks was also investigated. Our results show that GD patients displayed higher emotional and behavioural impairment than HC, together with an increased resting state functional connectivity in the network including anterior cingulate cortex, the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens, and within the cerebellum, in comparison with the control group. Moreover, a significant correlation between behavioural parameters and the strength of the resting-state cerebellar network was found. Overall, the functional alterations in brain connectivity involving the cerebellum observed in this study underpin the emotional and behavioural impairment recorded in GD patients. This evidence suggests the employment of novel neuromodulatory therapeutic approaches involving specific and salient targets such as the cerebellum in addictive disorders.