Genetic and neural relationships underpinning impulsivity


decision making
social functioning
imaging-genetic studies
candidate genes

How to Cite

Wong, N., & Lee, T. (2013). Genetic and neural relationships underpinning impulsivity. International Journal of Psychological Research, 6, 80–93.


Impulsivity refers to acting without forethought. It can be detrimental to daily social functioning and interaction, and is significantly implicated in several clinical conditions, e.g. violence and addiction. Evidence for the neural underpinnings of impulsivity from both healthy and clinical populations, integrated with the findings from genetic studies on the same topic, lend important insight into a neurobehavioral model of impulsivity. In this review, disinhibition and impulsive decision-making in the impulsivity construct are covered. Recent behavioral and imaging-genetic studies on the topic will also be reviewed and discussed. Findings from neuroimaging studies, clinical studies, and genetic studies converge to provide a better understanding of individual differences on the continuum. Future research efforts should continue to focus on the association approach to identify relevant neural-behavioral correlations in order for elucidating the impact from genes through neural to behavioral phenotypes. These potential findings, when being incorporated with physiological and immunological measures, would not only hasten understanding of impulsivity, but guide interventions development for ameliorating maladaptive social/psychological functioning disorders underpinned by it.


Albaugh, M. D., Harder, V. S., Althoff, R. R., Rettew, D. C., Ehli, E. A., Lengyel-Nelson, T., ... Hudziak, J. J. (2010). COMT Val158Met genotype as a risk factor for problem behaviors in youth. Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(8), 841-849.

Balodis, I. M., Kober, H., Worhunsky, P. D., Stevens, M. C., Pearlson, G. D., & Potenza, M. N. (2012). Diminished frontostriatal activity during processing of monetary rewards and losses in pathological gambling. Biological Psychiatry, 71(8), 749-757.

Barch, D. M., & Dowd, E. C. (2010). Goal representations and motivational drive in schizophrenia: the role of prefrontal-striatal Interactions. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 36(5), 919-934.

Bevilacqua, L. & Goldman, D. (2013). Genetics of impulsive behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 368(1615), 20120380.

Brown, S. M., Manuck, S. B., Flory, J. D., & Hariri, A. R. (2006). Neural basis of individual differences in impulsivity: contributions of corticolimbic circuits for behavioural arousal and control. Emotion, 6(2), 239-245.

The work that is sent to this journal must be original, not published or sent to be published elsewhere; and if it is accepted for publication, authors will agree to transfer copyright to International Journal of Psychological Research. 

To give up copyright, the authors allow that, International Journal of Psychological Research, distribute the work more broadly, check for the reuse by others and take care of the necessary procedures for the registration and administration of copyright; at the same time, our editorial board represents the interests of the author and allows authors to re-use his work in various forms. In response to the above, authors transfer copyright to the journal, International Journal of Psychological Research. This transfer does not imply other rights which are not those of authorship (for example those that concern about patents). Likewise, preserves the authors rights to use the work integral or partially in lectures, books and courses, as well as make copies for educational purposes. Finally, the authors may use freely the tables and figures in its future work, wherever make explicit reference to the previous publication in International Journal of Psychological Research. The assignment of copyright includes both virtual rights and forms of the article to allow the editorial to disseminate the work in the manner which it deems appropriate. 

The editorial board reserves the right of amendments deemed necessary in the application of the rules of publication.


Download data is not yet available.