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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2009 Nov;31(8):927-44. doi: 10.1080/13803390902758793. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Bright and dark sides of impulsivity: performance of women with high and low trait impulsivity on neuropsychological tasks.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain.


We administered a multidimensional measure of trait impulsivity (the UPPS-P impulsivity scale; Cyders et al., 2007) to a nonclinical sample of 155 individuals and selected 32 participants at the two ends of the trait impulsivity continuum: high (HI, n = 15) and low (LI, n = 17) impulsive women. We further tested these extreme groups on neuropsychological measures of motor impulsivity (go/no-go, d2), delay discounting (Now or Later Questionnaire), reflection impulsivity (Matching Familiar Figures Test), self-regulation (Revised-Strategy Application Test), and decision making (Iowa Gambling Task). High-trait-impulsivity women were found to commit more commission errors in the initial stage of the go/no-go task but also to make fewer omission errors in the d2 test than did low-trait-impulsivity women. Both effects can be accounted for by a lower response criterion in impulsive women. On the other hand, measures of delay discounting, reflection impulsivity, self-regulation, and decision making did not yield significant differences between the two groups. This pattern of results supports the idea that trait impulsivity in healthy women is linked to neurocognitive mechanisms involved in response monitoring and inhibition, but not to mechanisms involved in self-regulation or decision making. These findings temper the assumption that impulsivity is the core cause of dysfunctional risky and/or impulsive behavior in psychopathological or neuropsychological profiles.

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