Studying Compulsivity in the Brain Can Lead to Better Treatments

No one likes to admit they are impulsive, but many people are and it can impact their ability to change their behavior. When that individual has certain challenges, such as ADHD or drug addiction, the degree to which impulsivity plays a part can affect treatment.

According to a recent Psych Central report, researchers at Queen’s university have determined that impulsive behavior can actually be improved through training. When impulsive behaviors improve, a mechanism change has occurred in the frontal lobe of the brain.

Impulsive behaviors can affect everyone and can emerge in an inability to resist the second piece of cake, picking up the candy bar in the checkout line at the grocery store or watching just one more hour of television.

On a more intense level, impulsivity is a major factor in a number of disorders, including ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, addiction and gambling. Children who cannot control their impulses often continue to deal with problems well into adulthood.

Impulsive behaviors in a child are often corrected within certain situations. For instance, the child who blurts out the answer to a question instead of raising a hand will have consequences for being impulsive. He or she eventually learns how to raise a hand instead of calling out the answer.

Researchers wanted to know how this type of learning occurs within the brain and sought to determine where the memory for this type of inhibition resides and how it is encoded. In doing so, researchers can develop treatment that teach the individual how to stop their impulsive behavior that is causing problems.