MAR 19, 2015 09:00 AM PDT

Keynote - Impulsivity and Compulsivity: Neural Substrates and Neuropsychiatric Implications

Presented At Neuroscience
12 48 2565

  • Head of Department of Psychology, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge
      Trevor Robbins was appointed in 1997 as the Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. He was elected to the Chair of Experimental Psychology (and Head of Department) at Cambridge from October 2002. He is also Director of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI), jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. The mission of the BCNI is to inter-relate basic and clinical research in psychiatry and neurology for such conditions as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's diseases, frontal lobe injury, schizophrenia, depression, drug addiction and developmental syndromes such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
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      <br />Trevor is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (1990), the Academy of Medical Sciences (2000) and the Royal Society (2005). In 2014 he was awarded a share of the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize. He was also given the American Psychological Association's Distinguished contribution award in 2011. He has been President of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (1992-1994) and he won that Society's inaugural Distinguished Scientist Award in 2001. He was also President of the British Association of Psychopharmacology from 1996 to 1997. He has edited the journal Psychopharmacology since 1980 and joined the editorial board of Science in January 2003. He has been a member of the Medical Research Council (UK) and chaired the Neuroscience and Mental Health Board from 1995 until 1999.
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      <br />He has been included on a list of the 100 most cited neuroscientists by ISI, has published over 600 full papers in scientific journals and has co-edited seven books (Psychology for Medicine: The Prefrontal Cortex; Executive and Cognitive Function: Disorders of Brain and Mind 2:Drugs and the Future: The Neurobiology of Addiction; New Vistas. Decision-making, Affect and Learning: and, Cognitive Search: Evolution, Algorithms, and the Brain).
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    Impulsivity can be defined as the tendency to act prematurely without foresight. Behavioural and neurobiological analysis of this construct, based on evidence from both animal and human studies, defines several dissociable forms depending on distinct cortico-striatal substrates. One form of impulsivity depends on the temporal discounting of reward, and another on motor or response disinhibition. Impulsivity is commonly associated with addiction to drugs from different pharmacological classes, but its causal role in human addiction is unclear. I will characterize in neurobehavioral and neurochemical terms a rodent model of impulsivity based on premature responding in an attentional setting. Evidence will be surveyed that high impulsivity on this task precedes the escalation subsequently of cocaine self-administration behavior, as well as a tendency toward compulsive cocaine-seeking and to relapse. These results indicate that the vulnerability to stimulant addiction may depend on an impulsivity endophenotype. Implications of these findings for the aetiology, development, and treatment of drug addiction are considered in the light of recent evidence from studies of human chronic stimulant abusers and their non-drug abusing siblings. I will also consider the neuropsychological basis of compulsivity which can be defined as aberrant perseverative behaviour, and for which obsessive-compulsive behaviour (OCD) is probably the prototypical disorder. I will identify (i) distinct cortical-striatal substrates for compulsive responding which reflect the neural bases of goal-directed and habit learning and (ii) candidate neuroendophenotypes for OCD. I will also address the issue of possible commonalities and differences in the compulsivity of chronic substance abuse and OCD.

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