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Impulsivity Linked to Brain Connectivity

Update Date: Jul 22, 2014 10:18 AM EDT

Children with impulsive behaviors often get themselves into trouble, whether it is with their teachers, friends or parents. In a new study, researchers from the University of Murcia in Spain examined any changes in the brains of children with impulsivity. They found that these uncontrollable behaviors that tend to automatically respond to stimuli are related to brain connectivity.

"Impulsiveness is a risk factor for the development of serious behavioral problems," Luis J. Fuentes, the main author of the study, explained according to Medical Xpress. "Among the children with a typical development, we can observe individual differences in their interaction with the environment."

For this study, the researchers recruited 24 children and ranked them according to their level of impulsiveness based on the survey answers that their parents provided. The researchers then used neuroimaging techniques to compare the children's brains and to observe for any patterns between brain connectivity and impulsiveness.

"We can confirm that the greater the level of impulsiveness in the children, the greater the alteration in the connections between the posterior cingulate cortex and the right angular gyrus, which is also observed in people with antisocial behavior; and other cerebral areas that are usually activated when performing given cognitive tasks," Fuentes stated.

The findings suggested that studying brain connectivity patterns could help doctors predict children's risk of developing behavioral problems as well as complications with social adaption. By identifying these issues early on, behavioral therapy or other forms of treatments could drastically improve children's life quality. The researchers added that other studies have tied impulsiveness to violence. If treatments could effectively reduce children's impulsivity and teach them how to control it, their risk of future altercations could also be prevented.

The study, "Brain functional connectivity changes in children that differ in impulsivity temperamental trait," was published in the journal, the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

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