Linking cognitive measures of response inhibition and reward sensitivity to trait impulsivity

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Impulsivity is regarded as a multifaceted construct that comprises two dimensions: rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity. It is unclear, however, which aspects of trait impulsivity, as assessed by self-report measures are related to rapid-response impulsivity and/or to reward-delay impulsivity, as different results have been reported in studies using both self-report and cognitive measures. This study aimed to directly relate self-report measures of impulsivity to cognitive measures of impulsivity in individuals at low- or high-levels on two impulsivity dimensions, specifically rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity. Participants were classified into high- or low-impulsivity groups based on (1) level of rapid-response impulsivity (determined by BIS-11 Motor subscale scores); (2) level of reward-delay impulsivity (determined by BIS/BAS subscale scores); and (3) a combination of rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity levels. Impulsivity was assessed using Go/No-Go, Stop-Signal and Delay-Discounting tasks and self-report measures. The high rapid-response impulsivity group showed significantly higher reward-delay impulsivity on both, the Delay-Discounting tasks and on self-report measures assessing reward-delay impulsivity, than the low-risk group. Based on the level of reward-delay impulsivity, the high reward-delay impulsivity group scored significantly higher on task-based (cognitive) and self-report measures assessing rapid-response inhibition than the low reward-delay impulsivity group. Combining both dimensions of impulsivity showed that the high-impulsivity group performed significantly worse in rapid-response paradigms and temporally discounted significantly more impulsively than the low-impulsivity group. Thus, combined impulsivity factors provide better assessment of impulsivity than each dimension alone. In conclusion, robust differences in impulsivity can be identified in non-clinical young adults.




Jauregi, A., Kessler, K., & Hassel, S. (2018). Linking cognitive measures of response inhibition and reward sensitivity to trait impulsivity. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(NOV).

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