Amanda Roberts receives funding for gambling conference

Amanda Roberts has received funding form the Society from the Study of Addictions (SSA) to host the first Current Advances in Gambling Research (GAGR) on 12th July 2019 alongside colleagues from UEL.  The conference will be held at University Square Stratford, University of East London and is free to attend.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Current Advances in Gambling Research (2019): Gambling Research in the UK

Fri, 12 July 2019, 09:30 – 16:00 BST

University of East London, Water Lane, London E15 4LZ

The conference aims to bring together inter-disciplinary academic experts in a range of gambling fields, including (but not limited to) behaviour, addiction, clinical treatment services, economics, and neuroscience to discuss the latest data driven developments in research on gambling in a supportive and critically reflective environment. We aim to showcase some of the excellent gambling research being done in the UK, and provide a networking opportunity for researchers. Although primarily a research driven academic conference, attendance is open to everyone.

Up to 8 further presentation slots (15 minutes each) are also available. If you are interested in presenting your research at this conference, please submit an abstract via the following link (max 1750 characters):

The deadline for abstract submission is MONDAY 13th MAY. Successful submissions will be notified by Friday 17th May.

The deadline for conference registration is MONDAY 24th JUNE.

For more details please see:

Dr Amanda Roberts has 2 articles accepted for publication and 1 published

Amanda Roberts and her colleagues have had two new papers accepted for publication on the topic of problematic gambling.

For those interested in reading the papers when they are published, the references are below:

Sharman, S., Murphy, R., Turner, J. & Roberts, A (2019). Psychosocial correlates in treatment seeking gamblers: Differences in early age onset gamblers vs later age onset gamblers. Addictive Behaviors.  

Rogers, J., Landon, J., Sharman, J., & Roberts, A. (2019).  Anonymous women? A scoping review of the experiences of women in Gamblers Anonymous (GA).  International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

In addition to these, Amanda and colleague also recently published a paper examining whether GPS should screen for gambling disorders.

Roberts, A., Bowden Jones, H., Roberts, D. & Sharman, S. (2019). Should GPs routinely screen for gambling disorders? British Journal of General Practice,  69  (682):  226-227.


Dr Roberts & colleagues to present seminar on gambling research

This coming Wednesday (17/01/18), Dr Amanda Roberts, Dr Steve Sharman (a former FCRG member), and Verity Harris (a former MSc student at University of Lincoln) will be attending a 2 hour seminar at the University of East London to present some of the findings that have emerged from a research programme conducted in collaboration with the Gordon Moody Association.

Dr Roberts will be presenting work on the predictors of treatment outcomes for gamblers; Dr Sharman will present data on the trends and patterns of gambling behaviour; and Verity Harris will present findings on the topic of ‘binge gambling’. Other expert presenters will also be speaking, including Dr John Turner and Ruth Champion. Overall, the seminar will inform attendees about the impact of the residential treatment services provided by Gordon Moody Association for people in recovery from gambling addiction.

Dr Butler: UROS funding & public engagement event

Congratulations are in order for fellow FCRG member – Dr Kevin Butler – who, along with his colleague Dr Laëtitia Maréchal (from the EvoDevo Research Group), has recently received research funding and an invitation to a public engagement event in Brussels. Details are below:

In collaboration with Dr Maréchal and his undergraduate students (Tiffany McNally and Olivia Smith), Dr Butler was recently awarded funding from the ‘Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme’ (UROS) to investigate impulsive and risk taking behaviour in relation to approaching wild animals. Wildlife tourism is a growing industry and encounters with wild animals can be dangerous for both tourists and the animals involved. Dr Kevin et al. will investigate the role that individual differences play in making poor approach choices. They hope this research will increase public understanding of potential risks and will lead to better, safer wildlife tourism experiences for everyone concerned.

Public Engagement:
Also, Dr Butler and Dr Maréchal have been invited to attend a public engagement event entitled ‘Science is Wonderful’ at the EU Parliament in Brussels (26-27th September, 2017). At this event, they will present their research investigating the psychology of human-animal interactions: (1) Perception of primate emotion from facial expressions (Dr Maréchal) and (2) impulsivity and risk taking in relation to approaching wild animals (both Dr Maréchal and Butler).

Dr Kevin Butler publishes new research

Congratulations to FCRG member – Dr Kevin Butler – who has recently (along with his various collaborators) published a number of studies relevant to clinical psychology and related fields. Below we provide the reference (and link) for each study, along with a brief summary.

The first is:

Klaus K., Butler K., Durrant S. J., Ali M., Inglehearn C. F., Hodgson T. L., Gutierrez H., and Pennington K. (2017). The effect of COMT Val158Met and DRD2 C957T polymorphisms on executive function and the impact of early life stress. Brain and Behavior, 7(5): e00695. DOI: 10.1002/brb3.695


This study investigates the C957T (rs6277) polymorphism in the gene encoding the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) in healthy adult males. This polymorphism has been proposed to play a role in the development of schizophrenia. More specifically, the C allele has been associated with heightened schizophrenia risk in Caucasian samples. We show that CC carriers have impaired executive function (working memory and spatial planning). We also show, for the first time, impaired sustained attention performance in CC carriers who had experienced early life trauma compared to CC carriers without such experience. We argue that the DRD2 C957T polymorphism may confer vulnerability to schizophrenia through an impact on cognitive function and that some of these effects may be mediated by experience of early life trauma.

Butler K., Klaus K., Edwards L., and Pennington K. (2017). Elevated cortisol awakening response associated with early life stress and impaired executive function in healthy adult males. Hormones and Behavior, 95: 13-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.07.013


The cortisol awakening response (CAR) is the typical rise in cortisol levels seen shortly after awakening. The CAR is thought to index hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) functioning (the HPA-axis being one of our brains main stress response pathways) and has been shown to be aberrant in mental health disorders such as depression. Here we show that experience of trauma in childhood or adolescence is associated with elevated CAR. We also show that the age of trauma exposure, type of trauma exposure and cumulative exposure impacts on the CAR. Specifically, trauma during childhood, experience of physical abuse/violence and a greater number of traumas experienced appears to be associated with a more pronounced effect on the CAR. We also find a positive association between CAR and problem solving/planning performance. We argue that experience of early life trauma, elevated CAR and poor problem solving may reflect a phenotype that confers vulnerability to mental health disorders and suggest future research to confirm this hypothesis.

Butler K., Rusted J., Gard P., and Jackson A. (2017). Performance monitoring in nicotine dependence: considering integration of recent reinforcement history. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 156: 63-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.pbb.2017.04.004


Impairments in performance monitoring (PM), our ability to monitor our own on-going behaviour for errors (e.g. when not being able to stop an action when we should) and conflict (e.g. when doing something that might initially be rewarding but that ultimately comes at a cost) have previously been reported in addicted populations including in nicotine dependent smokers. Contemporary models and behavioural evidence suggest that integration of previous reinforcement history (i.e. the collective information regarding the quality of our actions and choices and their outcomes over time) is an important feature of PM. However studies demonstrating PM impairments in addicted populations have typically used indices derived from reaction to task error or conflict on individual trials requiring little or no integration (e.g. post-error slowing – slowing of reaction time after an error, or error related negativity – an electrophysiological signal thought to derive from the anterior cingulate cortex after an error). This study investigates PM in current, former and never smokers using a reinforcement learning task that requires participants to integrate information regarding choices and their outcomes in order to do well. We show that former smokers (mean: 20.47 months abstinent) have the best PM ability and that current smokers (particularly those who recently smoked) have the worst PM ability. We argue that PM may be a good cognitive target for smoking cessation and suggest future prospective and intervention studies to examine this further.