About Impulsivity

Impulsivity has been variously defined as human behavior without adequate thought, the tendency to act with less forethought than do most individuals of equal ability and knowledge, or a predisposition toward rapid, unplanned reactions to internal or external stimuli with diminished regard to the negative consequences of these reactions.

Impulsivity is implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders including mania in bipolar disorder, personality disorders, impulse control disorders and substance use disorders. Despite the psychiatric relevance of impulsivity, there is little agreement among researchers and clinicians regarding the exact definition of impulsivity or how it should be measured.

As an example of the type of research conducted within our lab, projects include using functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural activities underlying gambling urges and drug cravings, understanding genetic influences on pathological gambling and related disorders, testing the efficacies and tolerabilities and exploring the biological underpinnings of drug and behavioral therapies for pathological gambling and drug addictions, and examining the gender differences involved in pathological gambling and drug addiction.

In our Exploratory Center for Interdisciplinary Translational Research of Addiction (ExCITRA), we are studying facets of impulsivity across species using behavioral and brain assessments with a focus on striatal function in cocaine dependence.