Psychobiology Of Impulsivity

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As above, impulsivity is defined as acting without thinking, or as behaving recklessly without regard to consequences. A robust literature suggests that deficits in impulse control are associated with abnormalities in neuropsychological, neu-roanatomical (primarily frontal), and neurotransmitter function. Research into impulsivity is supplemented by the literature on impulse control disorders. Impulsive disorders are characterized by risk seeking behavior, a defect in harm avoidance, and little anticipatory anxiety. These disorders may include DSM-IV disorders of impulse control, such as intermittent explosive disorder, pyromania, kleptomania, and pathological gambling. Such disorders are characterized by pleasure producing behaviors, although the consequences of such behavior may be painful. This research is relevant to the study of antisociality, as high trait levels of impulsivity and/or impulsive-aggression may dispose people to perform the behaviors associated with specific impulse control disorders. Likewise, high scores on the motor impulsiveness factor on the Barratt Impulsivity Scale have been associated with a greater number of impulsive acts in inmates (Barratt et al, 1997).

Research into the neurobiology of impulse control is further complemented by studies conducted within the impulsive/compulsive conceptual framework (Hollander, & Cohen 1996). Compulsive disorders, to some degree the reverse of impulsive disorders, are characterized phenomenologically by an increased sense of harm avoidance, risk aversiveness, and anticipatory anxiety. Such disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder, and anorexia nervosa. Moreover, the neurobiology of compulsive disorders is largely the inverse of the impulsive findings, providing additional evidence of the neuro-biological substrates of impulsivity.

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Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

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