Are executive function and impulsivity antipodes? A conceptual reconstruction with special reference to addiction

Warren K. Bickel, David P. Jarmolowicz, E. Terry Mueller, Kirstin M. Gatchalian, Samuel M. McClure

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

148 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale: Although there is considerable interest in how either executive function (EF) or impulsivity relate to addiction, there is little apparent overlap between these research areas. Objectives: The present paper aims to determine if components of these two constructs are conceptual antipodes-widely separated on a shared continuum. Methods: EFs and impulsivities were compared and contrasted. Specifically, the definitions of the components of EF and impulsivity, the methods used to measure the various components, the populations of drug users that show deficits in these components, and the neural substrates of these components were compared and contrasted. Results: Each component of impulsivity had an antipode in EF. EF, however, covered a wider range of phenomena, including compulsivity. Conclusions: Impulsivity functions as an antipode of certain components of EF. Recognition of the relationship between EF and impulsivity may inform the scientific inquiry of behavioral problems such as addiction. Other theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-387
Number of pages27
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume221
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Addiction
  • Compulsivity
  • Drug abuse
  • Executive function
  • Impulsivity
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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