Recent Translational Findings on Impulsivity in Relation to Drug Abuse

Jessica Weafer, Suzanne H. Mitchell, Harriet de Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Impulsive behavior is strongly implicated in drug abuse, as both a cause and a consequence of drug use. To understand how impulsive behaviors lead to and result from drug use, translational evidence from both human and non-human animal studies is needed. Here, we review recent (2009 or later) studies that have investigated two major components of impulsive behavior, inhibitory control and impulsive choice, across preclinical and clinical studies. We concentrate on the stop-signal task as the measure of inhibitory control and delay discounting as the measure of impulsive choice. Consistent with previous reports, recent studies show greater impulsive behavior in drug users compared with non-users. Additionally, new evidence supports the prospective role of impulsive behavior in drug abuse, and has begun to identify the neurobiological mechanisms underlying impulsive behavior. We focus on the commonalities and differences in findings between preclinical and clinical studies, and suggest future directions for translational research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-300
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Delay discounting
  • Drug abuse
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Impulsive choice
  • Inhibitory control
  • Stop-signal task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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