The role of emotions and physiological arousal in modulating impulsive behaviour

Herman, Aleksandra Maria (2018) The role of emotions and physiological arousal in modulating impulsive behaviour. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Impulsivity refers to both a stable personality trait and a set of behaviours which undergo momentary changes depending on the current circumstances. Impulsivity plays a vital role in daily life as well as clinical practice as it is associated with drug misuse and certain neuropsychiatric conditions. Because of its great health and well-being importance, it is crucial to understand factors which modulate impulsive behaviours. The current studies investigated the role of emotions and physiological arousal as modulators of impulsive actions and decisions in healthy individuals.

A set of experiments was conducted using a variety of methods including behavioural testing, physiological recordings, psychopharmacology and neuroimaging. Studies 1 and 2 clarified the influence of emotional states on distinct dimensions of impulsive behaviours. Study 3 investigated the neural correlates behind the impact of emotions on impulsive actions. Finally, studies 4 and 5 focused on the relationship between physiological arousal and behavioural and trait impulsivity.

Our findings demonstrate that a degree to which one’s internal (emotional or physiological) state changes, is associated with behavioural impulsivity level. Importantly, distinct dimensions of impulsivity are differentially sensitive to those changes. Namely, increased state level of physiological arousal is associated with decreased motor ‘stopping’ impulsivity, enhanced subjective ratings and objective measurements of arousal are also related to decreased temporal impulsivity. Increased ratings of stress and increased physiological arousal, however, are associated with higher reflection impulsivity. At the neural level, successful response inhibition requires enhanced activation of prefrontal and parietal areas in impulsive individuals, particularly in negative emotional context, suggesting that behavioural control might be more effortful for highly impulsive individuals.

In conclusion, changes in internal bodily state are related to behavioural impulsivity level. Staying more attuned to those changes and finding adaptive ways to adjust behaviour according to bodily needs might be vital to reducing impulsivity levels.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry > RC0438 Psychiatry, including Psychopathology > RC0554 Psychiatric aspects of personality and behavior conditions > RC0569.5.A-Z Other personality disorders, behavior problems, situations, etc., A-Z > RC0569.5.I46 Impulsive personality
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2018 14:10
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2021 06:55

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