Trait impulsivity is related to ventral ACC and amygdala activity during primary reward anticipation

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Abstract

Trait impulsivity is characterized by behavioral disinhibition and rash decision-making that contribute to many maladaptive behaviors. Previous research demonstrates that trait impulsivity is related to the activity of brain regions underlying reward sensitivity and emotion regulation, but little is known about this relationship in the context of immediately available primary reward. This is unfortunate, as impulsivity in these contexts can lead to unhealthy behaviors, including poor food choices, dangerous drug use and risky sexual practices. In addition, little is known about the relationship between integration of reward and affective neurocircuitry, as measured by resting-state functional connectivity, and trait impulsivity in everyday life, as measured with a commonly used personality inventory. We therefore asked healthy adults to undergo a functional magnetic resonance imaging task in which they saw cues indicating the imminent oral administration of rewarding taste, as well as a resting-state scan. Trait impulsivity was associated with increased activation during anticipation of primary reward in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and amygdala. Additionally, resting-state functional connectivity between the ACC and the right amygdala was negatively correlated with trait impulsivity. These findings demonstrate that trait impulsivity is related not only to ACC-amygdala activation but also to how tightly coupled these regions are to one another.

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