Impulsiveness linked to activity in brain's reward center

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Brain organization

A new imaging study shows that our brains react with varying sensitivity to reward and suggests that people most susceptible to impulse are those who need to buy it, eat it, or have it, now - show the greatest activity in a reward center of the brain. The study appears in the December 20 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Advertisement

In their study of 45 subjects, Ahmad Hariri, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and collaborators at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the University of Chicago showed that activity in the ventral striatum, a core component of the brain's reward circuitry, correlated with individuals' impulsiveness.

"These data are exciting because they begin to unravel individual differences in brain organization underlying differences in complex psychological constructs, such as 'impulsivity,' which may contribute to the propensity to addiction," says Terry E. Robinson, PhD, of the University of Michigan biopsychology program.

The Hariri team tested the subjects on two computer-based tasks. First, participants indicated their preferences in a series of immediate-versus-delayed, hypothetical monetary rewards. They chose between receiving an amount from 10 cents to $105 that day and receiving $100 at one of seven points up to five years in the future. "Switch points"

Advertisement