Association between impulsivity and neural activation to alcohol cues in heavy drinkers Journal Articles uri icon

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  • This study examines associations between two measures of impulsivity and brain response to alcohol taste cues. Impulsivity is both a risk factor for and a consequence of alcohol use and misuse. Frontostriatal circuits are linked to both impulsivity and addiction-related behaviors, including response to alcohol cues. Non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers (n = 55) completed (i) an fMRI alcohol taste cue-reactivity paradigm; (ii) the monetary choice questionnaire (MCQ), a measure of choice impulsivity where participants choose between smaller, sooner rewards and larger, delayed rewards; (iii) and the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, a self-report measure assessing five impulsivity factors. General linear models identified associations between neural alcohol taste cue-reactivity and impulsivity, adjusting for age, gender, and smoking status. Self-reported sensation seeking was positively associated with alcohol taste cue-elicited activation in frontostriatal regions, such that individuals who reported higher sensation seeking displayed greater neural response to alcohol taste cues. Conversely, delay discounting was negatively associated with activation in frontoparietal regions, such that individuals who reported greater discounting showed less cue-elicited activation. There were no significant associations between other self-reported impulsivity subscales and alcohol taste cue-reactivity. These results indicate that sensation seeking is associated with reward responsivity, while delay discounting is associated with recruitment of self-control circuitry.


  • Burnette, Elizabeth M
  • Grodin, Erica N
  • Lim, Aaron C
  • MacKillop, James
  • Karno, Mitchell P
  • Ray, Lara A

publication date

  • November 2019