Networks underlying trait impulsivity: Evidence from voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping

Valerie McDonald, Katherina K. Hauner, Aileen Chau, Frank Krueger, Jordan Grafman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Impulsivity is considered a multidimensional construct that encompasses a range of behaviors, including poor impulse control, premature decision-making, and the inability to delay gratification. In order to determine the extent to which impulsivity and its components share a common network, a voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) analysis was performed in a large sample of patients (N = 131) with focal, penetrating traumatic brain injuries (pTBI). Impulsivity was assessed using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), a standard self-report measure that allows for unique estimates of global impulsivity and its factor analysis-derived components (e.g., “motor impulsivity”). Heightened global impulsivity was associated with damage to multiple areas in bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), left superior, middle and inferior temporal gyrus, and left hippocampus. Moreover, a cluster was identified within the left PFC associated specifically with motor impulsivity (defined as “acting without thinking”). The results were consistent with the existing literature on bilateral prefrontal cortical involvement in behavioral impulsivity, but also provided new evidence for a more complex neuroanatomical representation of this construct, characterized by left-lateralized temporal and hippocampal involvement, as well as a left-lateralized prefrontal network specifically associated with motor impulsivity. Hum Brain Mapp 38:656–665, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-665
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • impulsivity
  • motor impulsivity
  • prefrontal cortex
  • traumatic brain injury
  • voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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