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OBJECTIVE - Function of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex has been implicated in impulse control. The authors used the Stroop paradigm to test attention and response inhibition during the presentation of congruent and incongruent stimuli in male pathological gamblers and a group of comparison subjects.
METHOD - Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to examine ventromedial prefrontal cortex function during Stroop performance.
RESULTS - In response to infrequent incongruent stimuli, pathological gamblers demonstrated decreased activity in the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex relative to the comparison subjects. Both groups demonstrated similar activity changes in multiple brain regions, including activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate and dorsolateral frontal cortex.
CONCLUSIONS - Pathological gamblers share many neural correlates of Stroop task performance with healthy subjects but differ in a brain region previously implicated in disorders characterized by poor impulse control.