Premotor functional connectivity predicts impulsivity in juvenile offenders

Benjamin J. Shannon, Marcus E. Raichle, Abraham Z. Snyder, Damien A. Fair, Kathryn L. Mills, Dongyang Zhang, Kevin Bache, Vince D. Calhoun, Joel T. Nigg, Bonnie J. Nagel, Alexander A. Stevens, Kent A. Kiehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Teenagers are often impulsive. In some cases this is a phase of normal development; in other cases impulsivity contributes to criminal behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined resting-state functional connectivity among brain systems and behavioral measures of impulsivity in 107 juveniles incarcerated in a high-security facility. In less-impulsive juveniles and normal controls, motor planning regions were correlated with brain networks associated with spatial attention and executive control. In more-impulsive juveniles, these same regions correlated with the default-mode network, a constellation of brain areas associated with spontaneous, unconstrained, self-referential cognition. The strength of these brain - behavior relationships was sufficient to predict impulsivity scores at the individual level. Our data suggest that increased functional connectivity of motor-planning regions with networks subserving unconstrained, self-referential cognition, rather than those subserving executive control, heightens the predisposition to impulsive behavior in juvenile offenders. To further explore the relationship between impulsivity and neural development,westudied functional connectivity in the same motor planning regions in 95 typically developing individuals across a wide age span. The change in functional connectivity with age mirrored that of impulsivity: younger subjects tended to exhibit functional connectivity similar to the more-impulsive incarcerated juveniles, whereas older subjects exhibited a less-impulsive pattern. This observation suggests that impulsivity in the offender population is a consequence of a delay in typical development, rather than a distinct abnormality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11241-11245
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 5 2011


  • Functional MRI
  • Psychopathy
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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