Impulsiveness plays an important role in addiction to drugs. For example, impulsiveness is strongly associated with smoking, in particular with an early onset of smoking and frequent relapses of smokers who try to quit. Furthermore, impulsiveness is known to promote drug craving, a key feature of addiction and one of the best predictors of relapse.
In the first study on the neural pathways that underlie the relationship between impulsivity and cigarette craving, Josiane Bourque and colleagues from the University of Montreal, Canada, found that impulsive people (who experienced the most intense cravings in response to images of cigarettes) showed diminished activity in the posterior cingulate cortex of the brain.
Bourque and colleagues conclude that a lower activity in this region makes it more difficult for impulsive people to control their cravings for cigarettes and other drugs.
Neural circuitry of impulsivity in a cigarette craving paradigm, Josiane Bourque, Adrianna Mendrek, Laurence Dinh-Williams and Stéphane Potvin, Front. Psychiatry, 16 July 2013, doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00067