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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy;
  • Pathological gambling;
  • Obsessionality;
  • G-SAS;
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

Summary

Pathological gambling symptoms (PGS), that is, the subjective urge to gamble and the actual gambling behaviors, are currently acknowledged as relatively common symptoms among Western countries, with an estimated point prevalence of 0.6–1.1% in the general population. Converging evidence suggests that PGS are overrepresented in patients with neurological conditions affecting dopaminergic reward pathways, and can be expressed in both impulse control disorders and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders. This study explored the clinical correlates of PGS in patients with epilepsy. Eighty-eight consecutive adult outpatients recruited at three epilepsy clinics in northern Italy were assessed using the Gambling-Symptom Assessment Scale (G-SAS), along with a battery of psychometric instruments to index depression (Beck Depression Inventory [BDI]), anxiety (Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory [STAI]), and obsessionality (Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale [YBOCS]) symptoms. On the G-SAS, patients with a diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) reported a mean [sd] G-SAS score of 2.0 [5.7], significantly higher than patients with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) (0.6 [1.7]) and idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) (0.4 [1.4]). Moreover, multiple regression analysis showed that G-SAS scores were selectively predicted by YBOCS scores, thus suggesting an association between the expression of obsessional spectrum symptoms and PGS in patients with TLE. Alterations in the mesolimbic reward system could represent the putative neuropathological substrate for this multifaceted clinical picture.