Brain structure and trait impulsivity: A comparative VBM study contrasting neural correlates of traditional and alternative concepts in healthy subjects.


Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


Impulsivity as a trait modulates a range of cognitive functions, e.g. planning, decision-making, or response inhibition. Recent behavioural and psychometric findings challenge both the neurobiological models as well as the conceptualisation of psychometric measures of impulsivity. In the present study, we aimed to test the association of brain structure with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), a commonly applied self-rating instrument for impulsivity, using both the classical three-factor-model for impulsive behaviour (motor (IM), attentional (IA) and non-planning impulsivity (INP)), as well as the recently proposed alternative model contrasting inability to wait for reward (IWR) as an index of impulsive choice and rapid response style (RRS) as an index of impulsive action. We analysed brain structural data in a community sample of 85 healthy individuals, who completed the BIS-11, using voxel-based morphometry (CAT12: Computational Anatomy Toolbox 12). Regional volumes were correlated with the three traditional BIS-11 subscales, as well as IWR and RRS. BIS-11 total score was positively correlated with right inferior parietal, postcentral, and supramarginal grey matter (p < 0.05, FWE cluster-level corrected). Attentional impulsivity (IA) was also positively correlated with right inferior and superior parietal and supramarginal gyri. Comparison of the other scales did show some divergence, but most correlations did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. Our findings suggest that difference facets of trait impulsivity might be related to different brain areas, and might thus dissociate along distinct but overlapping neural networks. In contrast to lesion or patient studies, these analyses delineate physiological variance, and can thus help to conceptualise network models in the absence of pathology.


Barratt impulsiveness scale,Healthy subjects,Impulsive action,Impulsive choice,Trait impulsivity,VBM,