A D2 antagonist enhances the rewarding and priming effects of a gambling episode in pathological gamblers

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Aug;32(8):1678-86. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301295. Epub 2007 Jan 3.


Previous research indicated shared neurochemical substrates for gambling and psychostimulant reward. This suggests that dopamine substrates may directly govern the reinforcement process in pathological gambling. To investigate this issue, the present study assessed the effects of the relatively selective dopamine D2 antagonist, haloperidol (3 mg, oral) on responses to actual gambling (15 min on a slot machine) in 20 non-comorbid pathological gamblers and 18 non-gambler controls in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, counterbalanced design. In gamblers, haloperidol significantly increased self-reported rewarding effects of gambling, post-game priming of desire to gamble, facilitation of reading speed to Gambling words, and gambling-induced elevation in blood pressure. In controls, haloperidol augmented gambling-induced elevation in blood pressure, but had no effect on other indices. The findings provide direct experimental evidence that the D2 substrate modulates gambling reinforcement in pathological gamblers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Dopamine Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Haloperidol / administration & dosage
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pain Measurement
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reward*
  • Semantics


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Haloperidol