Fractionating impulsivity: neuropsychiatric implications

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017 Feb 17;18(3):158-171. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.8.


The ability to make decisions and act quickly without hesitation can be advantageous in many settings. However, when persistently expressed, impulsive decisions and actions are considered risky, maladaptive and symptomatic of such diverse brain disorders as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, drug addiction and affective disorders. Over the past decade, rapid progress has been made in the identification of discrete neural networks that underlie different forms of impulsivity - from impaired response inhibition and risky decision making to a profound intolerance of delayed rewards. Herein, we review what is currently known about the neural and psychological mechanisms of impulsivity, and discuss the relevance and application of these new insights to various neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / metabolism*
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Risk
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism*