The relationship of impulsivity to response inhibition and decision-making in remitted patients with bipolar disorder

Eur Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;21(4):270-3. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2006.04.006. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Background: Impulsivity, a core feature of bipolar disorder (BD), is a multifaceted concept encompassing failure of response inhibition and poor decision-making. Abnormalities in these two cognitive domains have been reported in BD patients but their relationship with impulsivity has not been explored.

Methods: Twenty-five remitted patients with BD completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) and performed the Hayling Sentence Completion Task (HSCT) and a computerized version of the Iowa Gambling task. The HSCT total errors scaled score was used as a measure of response inhibition while the gabling task score, which reflects participants' ability to make advantageous choices, was used a measure of decision making.

Results: Higher scores on the BIS attentional and non-planning subscales were respectively associated with more errors in the HSCT and less advantageous choices in the gambling task.

Limitations: All patients were medicated. Healthy participants were not included.

Conclusions: Viewed in the context of recent relevant studies our findings suggest that impulsivity, response inhibition and decision-making in BD may represent behavioural manifestations of the same underlying biological mechanism possibly linked to ventral prefrontal cortical function.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • United Kingdom