Published as:

Disadvantageous decision-making is associated with increased motor impulsivity at the population level on a rodent gambling task.”

MM Barrus, JG Hosking, FD Zeeb, M Tremblay, CA Winstanley, in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

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Impulsivity is understood as a range of behaviours, but the association between these behaviours is not well understood. Although high motor impulsivity is a key symptom of disorders like pathological gambling and addiction, in which decision-making on laboratory tasks is compromised, there have been no clear demonstrations that choice and motor impulsivity are associated in the general population. We examined this association in a large population of rodents. Our meta-analysis revealed that motor impulsivity was positively correlated with poor decision making under risk. Highly motor impulsive rats were slower to adopt an advantageous choice strategy and quicker to make a choice on individual trials. This work may represent the first demonstration of a clear association between choice and motor impulsivity in a nonclinical population. This lends support to the common practice of studying impulsivity in nonclinical populations to gain insight into impulse control disorders and suggests that differences in impulsive behaviours between clinical and nonclinical populations may be ones of magnitude rather than ones of quality.