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Neuroimage. 2012 Nov 15;63(3):1070-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.07.049. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Decreased saliency processing as a neural measure of Barratt impulsivity in healthy adults.

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Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Cognitive control is necessary to navigating through an uncertain world. With the stop signal task (SST), we measure how cognitive control functions in a controlled environment. There has been conflicting evidence on whether trait impulsivity might reflect differences in cognitive control during the SST. While some studies find that trait impulsivity relates to measures of response inhibition, such as the stop signal reaction time (SSRT), other studies do not. Here, in 92 young adult participants (58 females; age 25 ± 4 years), we examined whether trait impulsivity, measured by the Barratt impulsivity scale (BIS-11), is associated with differences in performance and regional brain activations for the component processes of cognitive control during the SST. Across participants, trait impulsivity showed a trend-level correlation with SSRT (F(1.90)=3.18, p<.07; Pearson regression). In simple regressions, activation of the right anterior dorsal insula and middle frontal cortex (MFC) during stop as compared to go trials negatively correlated with motor and non-planning impulsivity score. Using the generalized form of psychophysiological interaction (gPPI), we showed that functional connectivity of the right insula and MFC with the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral visual areas were also negatively correlated with impulsivity. None of the other component processes of cognitive control, including response inhibition, error processing, post-error slowing, were significantly related to Barratt impulsivity. These results suggest that trait impulsivity as measured by BIS-11 may have distinct effects on saliency processing in adult individuals.

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