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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Sep;14(5):878-82. doi: 10.1017/S1355617708080934.

Relation of individual differences in impulsivity to nonclinical emotional decision making.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA.


Impulsivity has been identified as a behavioral precursor to addiction, and may be the manifestation of a neurological vulnerability. The present study investigated whether individual differences in impulsivity were associated with performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT, a test of emotional decision making thought to be associated in part with ventromedial prefrontal cortex function) and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST, a set-shifting thought to be associated in part with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex function). Subjects were screened for impulsivity using the BIS-11 (self-report) and a delay discounting questionnaire (a behavioral measure of impulsivity). High impulsivity was associated with poorer performance on the final block of trials of the IGT but was not significantly related to WCST performance. Both measures were significantly correlated with scores on the BIS. These results provide support for hypothesis that, in a nonclinical sample, impulsivity may vary systematically with performance on neuropsychological indicators of prefrontal function.

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