A neurogenetic approach to impulsivity

J Pers. 2008 Dec;76(6):1447-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00528.x.


Impulsivity is a complex and multidimensional trait that is of interest to both personality psychologists and to clinicians. For investigators seeking the biological basis of personality traits, the use of neuroimaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revolutionized personality psychology in less than a decade. Now, another revolution is under way, and it originates from molecular biology. Specifically, new findings in molecular genetics, the detailed mapping and the study of the function of genes, have shown that individual differences in personality traits can be related to individual differences within specific genes. In this article, we will review the current state of the field with respect to the neural and genetic basis of trait impulsivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / diagnosis
  • Impulsive Behavior / genetics*
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / genetics


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase