childrenWhy do some people struggle with impulsiveness? Research from the University of Murcia in Spain finds that impulsive children have a unique pattern of brain connections. The study suggests that there may be a biological basis for impulsive behavior and that clinicians could identify individuals at risk for problems with impulsiveness using neuroimaging.

Impulsiveness is a basic personality trait. People who struggle with impulsive behavior may find it hard to think before acting. When faced with a stimulus, impulsive individuals act immediately, without considering the consequences.

The researchers surveyed the parents of 24 children about their children’s impulsive behavior. Then, they classified the children according to the parent-reported levels of impulsivity. To determine whether impulsive behavior is rooted in brain connectivity, the researchers used neuroimaging techniques to observe the children’s brain patterns.

According to primary study author Luis Fuentes, the research team “Can confirm that the greater the level of impulsiveness in the children, the greater the alteration in the connections between the posterior cingulate cortex and the right angular gyrus … and other cerebral areas that are usually activated when performing given cognitive tasks.” The posterior cingulate cortex is a central part of the brain’s default node network, a key player in linking various areas of the brain. The angular gyrus is involved in processing attention and language and it plays a role in theory of mind. When these brain regions are unsynchronized, impulsiveness is more likely.

The study is small, but the researchers note that there is a clear correlation between the impulsive behavior that parents see in their children and brain activity patterns. The findings may offer a way for clinicians to identify individuals with impulsiveness issues and could lead to improved interventions for individuals struggling with impulsive behavior.

This research is published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.

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