[en] Impulsivity is an important personality dimension involved in many problematic behaviors and psychological disorders. The UPPS model suggests that impulsivity is a multifaceted construct that comprises four facets with distinct etiologies and related to different cognitive processes: urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and sensation seeking. In this study, we examined whether these different facets of impulsivity are associated with distinct neural correlates. During fMRI, participants performed a go/no go task and their level of attention to the task was assessed by probing mind-wandering episodes. We found that individuals who score high on lack of perseverance had more variable response times and showed decreased activity in the dorsal attention network when their mind was wandering. This network comprises lateral parietal, frontal, and visual areas and is involved in the controlled orientation of attention towards task-related stimuli. On the other hand, the remaining facets of impulsivity did not modulate the activity of the dorsal attention network. Urgency and sensation seeking were related to increased activity in the ventral tegmental area during mind-wandering, and urgency was also related to increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. The ventral tegmental area is part of the reward circuitry of the brain and the medial prefrontal cortex underlies self-related processing. No brain activation was found for lack of premeditation. These findings constitute a first demonstration of specific as well as shared neural correlates between the different components of the UPPS model of impulsivity. In addition, they strengthen the view that lack of perseverance is associated with difficulties to maintain a consistent level of attention during cognitive tasks, whereas urgency and sensation seeking are more closely related to motivational processes.
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS