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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 55 (2013) 11, 823 - 831

Review article

Impulse control in addiction: a translational perspective

L. Schmaal, N. Broos, L. Joos, T. Pattij, A.E. Goudriaan

Summary
background Impulsivity is a hallmark of addiction and predicts treatment response and relapse. Impulsivity is, however, a complex construct. Translational cross-species research is needed to give us greater insight into the neurobiology and the role of impulsivity in addiction and to help with the development of new treatment strategies for improving patients’ impulse control.
aim To review recent evidence concerning the concept of impulsivity and the role of impulsivity in addiction.
method The concept and neurobiology of impulsivity are reviewed from a translational perspective. The role of impulsivity in addiction and implications for treatment are discussed.
results Our recent translational cross-species study indicates that impulsivity is made up of several, separate independent features with partly distinct underlying neurobiological substrates. There are also indications that these features make a unique and independent contribution to separate stages of the addiction cycle.
conclusion In addition, the improvement of impulse control is a promising new target area for treatments that could lead to better results. However, those involved in developing new treatment strategies will have to take into account the complexity and multidimensional character of impulsivity.

keywords addiction, impulsivity, translational