You do not have to act to be impulsive: Brain resting-state activity predicts performance and impulsivity on the Balloon Analogue Risk Task

Behav Brain Res. 2020 Feb 3:379:112395. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112395. Epub 2019 Nov 28.


Objective: Impulsivity is a key, trait-like feature of the decision-making process. As personality traits are stable over time, we hypothesized that resting-state (RS) neural activity would predict individual impulsivity.

Methods: Thirty-five healthy individuals underwent fMRI scan during RS and subsequently performed the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). In BART, impulsivity was inversely correlated to monetary earnings. A group-level whole-brain regression assessed the relationship between earnings at BART and RS evaluated by the Hurst Exponent, regional homogeneity; low frequency oscillation (LFO), (including the Amplitude of Low Frequency Fluctuations - ALFF- and the fractional Amplitude of Low Frequency Fluctuations -fALFF) and the Default Mode Network (DMN) functional connectivity.

Results: ALFF significantly correlates with total earnings in the ventral part of the ACC/MPFC (FWE corrected p < 0.05 (uncorrected p value <0.0005; cluster size: ≥10 voxels), while H significantly correlates with total earnings in the anterior insula and the part opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus.

Conclusions: These results suggest that impulsivity and ability to change strategies according to external cues are trait characteristics shaped in the RS's functional architecture that can be detected also when individuals are not engaged in decision-making tasks.

Keywords: Basal ganglia; Decision making; Impulsivity; Reward; fMRI resting-state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Connectome*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Default Mode Network / diagnostic imaging
  • Default Mode Network / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Young Adult