Today’s best Eureka Alert headline
Medical therapy for restless legs syndrome may trigger compulsive gambling
But, crazily, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.. Restless legs syndrome is a sleep disorder that involves tickling, tingling sensations in the legs and a strong urge to move them. It is commonly treated with drugs which are known to be dopamine agonist. That is they boost the firing of the dopamine system. How this treats the syndrome is unclear but the side effects were an evens bet.
Dopamine is also the main neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward pathways. Highly addictive and compulsive behaviours often involve an out of control dopamine circuit. So by hyping up these patients dopamine sensitivity, they were primed for some addiction or another.. And they fell victim to the behaviourist’s favourite conditioning regime, the variable interval response reinforcement!