The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain. The authors argue that pathological gambling is a true addiction and that addictive gambling is the basic form of addiction, revealing the core character of all addiction.
The book describes addiction in neuroeconomic terms as chronic disruption of the balance between the midbrain dopamine system and the prefrontal and frontal serotonergic system, and reviews recent evidence from trials testing the effectiveness of antiaddiction drugs. The authors argue that the best way to understand disordered and addictive gambling is with a hybrid picoeconomic-neuroeconomic model, and their demonstration of this framework's applicability to gambling provides a concrete case study for the more abstract description of picoeconomic-neuroeconomic complementarity in Don Ross's earlier book Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation (MIT Press, 2005).
About the Authors
Don Ross is Professor of Economics and Dean of Commerce at the University of Cape Town, and Research Fellow in the Center for Economic Analysis of Risk at Georgia State University. He is the author of Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation (MIT Press, 2005), companion volume to Midbrain Mutiny.
Carla Sharp is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston.
Rudy E. Vuchinich was formerly Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
David Spurrett is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Cognitive Science Program at the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
"Relying on findings from the burgeoning area of neuroeconomics, Midbrain Mutiny makes the case that the neural basis of addiction
"In this bold synthesis of contemporary research and theory bringingtogether advances in behavioral- and neuro- economics, Ross and colleaguesprovide a novel understanding of addiction and apply it to the growinginternational challenge of pathological gambling. This book is a must readfor anyone interested in the science of addiction and addictive gambling andI predict will soon become the standard work for understanding theneuroscientific basis of gambling disorders."
Warren K. Bickel, Mills Chair of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention, andDirector, Center for Addiction Research, University of Arkansas for MedicalSciences
"Midbrain Mutiny gathers together all current, significant research andtheory on the psychology and neurology and economics of gambling. In thistruly excellent book the authors organize that material, reconcile apparentdifferences, and make the compelling argument that we are on the verge of asignificant breakthrough in treatment of disordered gambling."
Howard Rachlin, Psychology Department, State University of New York, StonyBrook
"Researchers who want to study impulsive or irrational behavior are welladvised to study gambling. It shares with substance addictions a concreteconsumption pattern and physiological adaptation, and shares with purelyemotional impulses the absence of an ingested agent and an allure for peopleof all levels of sophistication. Midbrain Mutiny integrates a wide range ofresearch findings on impulsive motivation in general, and on gambling inparticular, to develop a parsimonious model of disordered gambling that canalso illuminate many other problem behaviors. The result is a superbplatform on which neurophysiologists, imaging researchers, psychologists,economists, and philosophers of mind will be able to meet and connect theirfindings."
George Ainslie, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and TempleMedical College