ABSTRACT: Impulsiveness is a pivotal personality trait representing a core domain in all major personality inventories. Recently, impulsiveness has been identified as an important modulator of cognitive processing, particularly in tasks that require the processing of large amounts of information. Although brain imaging studies have implicated the prefrontal cortex to be a common underlying representation of impulsiveness and related cognitive functioning, to date a fine-grain and detailed morphometric analysis has not been carried out. On the basis of ahigh-resolution magnetic resonance scans acquired in 1620 healthy adolescents (IMAGEN), the individual cortical thickness (CT) was estimated. Correlations between Cloninger's impulsiveness and CT were studied in an entire cortex analysis. The cluster identified was tested for associations with performance in perceptual reasoning tasks of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC IV). We observed a significant inverse correlation between trait impulsiveness and CT of the left superior frontal cortex (SFC; Monte Carlo Simulation P<0.01). CT within this cluster correlated with perceptual reasoning scores (Bonferroni corrected) of the WISC IV. On the basis of a large sample of adolescents, we identified an extended area in the SFC as a correlate of impulsiveness, which appears to be in line with the trait character of this prominent personality facet. The association of SFC thickness with perceptual reasoning argues for a common neurobiological basis of personality and specific cognitive domains comprising attention, spatial reasoning and response selection. The results may facilitate the understanding of the role of impulsiveness in several psychiatric disorders associated with prefrontal dysfunctions and cognitive deficits.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 5 June 2012; doi:10.1038/mp.2012.56.
Molecular psychiatry 06/2012; · 15.05 Impact Factor