Assessing the impact of impulsivity on working memory performance and frontal cortical arousal


Tarbiat modares university


Introduction: This study was conducted on Gray’s description of the impulsivity trait and its impact on working memory performance and cortical arousal of the frontal cortex with a cognitive neurological approach.Method: At first, 793 female students who were 18–28 years old completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and the Carver and White’s Approach/Avoidance scale. Based on their scores, they were divided into a group of 15 subjects whose scores were in the upper distribution of Neuroticism and Extraversion (N+E+) and another group of 15 subjects whose scores were in the lower distribution of those dimensions (N-E-). They then performed a package of working memory tasks, including 1-back, Paced Auditory Serial Adding Test (PASAT), and forward and backward Digit Span. The total scores in each task were used as an indicator of working memory performance, and EEG alpha oscillations during the 1-back task were used as a cortical arousal index. Data were analyzed using t-tests for independent samples.Results: The results revealed that the groups had no significant differences in working memory performance, but impulsive subjects performed the tasks with less reaction time and with more errors. The results of alpha activity showed that impulsive subjects experienced higher left frontal cortical arousal during the task.Conclusion: In spite of impulsive subjects’ higher mental efforts, their working memory performance was not significantly different than low impulsivity subjects. The careless and hasty performances of high impulsivity subjects in working memory tasks might be due to their impulsive characteristics.