Prefrontal cortex and impulsive decision making

Soyoun Kim, Daeyeol Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations

Abstract

Impulsivity refers to a set of heterogeneous behaviors that are tuned suboptimally along certain temporal dimensions. Impulsive intertemporal choice refers to the tendency to forego a large but delayed reward and to seek an inferior but more immediate reward, whereas impulsive motor responses also result when the subjects fail to suppress inappropriate automatic behaviors. In addition, impulsive actions can be produced when too much emphasis is placed on speed rather than accuracy in a wide range of behaviors, including perceptual decision making. Despite this heterogeneous nature, the prefrontal cortex and its connected areas, such as the basal ganglia, play an important role in gating impulsive actions in a variety of behavioral tasks. Here, we describe key features of computations necessary for optimal decision making and how their failures can lead to impulsive behaviors. We also review the recent findings from neuroimaging and single-neuron recording studies on the neural mechanisms related to impulsive behaviors. Converging approaches in economics, psychology, and neuroscience provide a unique vista for better understanding the nature of behavioral impairments associated with impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1140-1146
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume69
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Basal ganglia
  • intertemporal choice
  • response inhibition
  • speed-accuracy tradeoff
  • switching
  • temporal discounting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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