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Waiting Impulsivity: The Influence of Acute Methylphenidate and Feedback.

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Chang-Webb, Yee Chien 
Morris, Laurel S 
Cooper, Ella 
Sethi, Arjun 


BACKGROUND: The ability to wait and to weigh evidence is critical to behavioral regulation. These behaviors are known as waiting and reflection impulsivity. In Study 1, we examined the effects of methylphenidate, a dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, on waiting and reflection impulsivity in healthy young individuals. In study 2, we assessed the role of learning from feedback in disorders of addiction. METHODS: We used the recently developed 4-Choice Serial Reaction Time task and the Beads task. Twenty-eight healthy volunteers were tested twice in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial with 20mg methylphenidate. In the second study, we analyzed premature responses as a function of prior feedback in disorders of addiction. RESULTS: Study 1: Methylphenidate was associated with greater waiting impulsivity to a cue predicting reward along with faster responding to target onset without a generalized effect on reaction time or attention. Methylphenidate influenced reflection impulsivity based on baseline impulsivity. Study 2: More premature responses occurred after premature responses in stimulant-dependent subjects. CONCLUSIONS: We show that methylphenidate has dissociable effects on waiting and reflection impulsivity. Chronic stimulant exposure impairs learning from prior premature responses, suggesting a failure to learn that premature responding is suboptimal. These findings provide a greater mechanistic understanding of waiting impulsivity.



addiction, binge drinking, impulsivity, methylphenidate, premature responding, stimulant dependence, Analysis of Variance, Central Nervous System Stimulants, Choice Behavior, Cross-Over Studies, Double-Blind Method, Feedback, Psychological, Female, Healthy Volunteers, Humans, Impulsive Behavior, Male, Methylphenidate, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychomotor Performance, Reaction Time, Young Adult

Journal Title

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Wellcome Trust (093705/Z/10/Z)
Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z)
VV and NAH are Wellcome Trust (WT) intermediate Clinical Fellows. LSM is an MRC student. The BCNI is supported by a WT and MRC grant. The authors report no conflicts of interest. TWR consults for Cambridge Cognition, Lundbeck, Teva, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Otsuka, has research grants from Lundbeck, GSK. Royalties Cambridge Cognition and receives editorial honoraria from Springer, Elsevier.