GABA link to impulsive males

August 11, 2011, Cardiff University
GABA link to impulsive males

(Medical Xpress) -- The reason why some men are more impulsive, act aggressively, drink and take drugs could lie in the fact that they have lower levels of a naturally occurring substance in a specific part of their brain, University research has uncovered.

Using the latest brain imaging techniques scientists from Cardiff University’s Brain Imaging Research Imaging Center (CUBRIC) and University College London have identified a new link between impulsiveness and levels of GABA, a very common neurotransmitter, in a very specific part of the brain.

"Advances in brain imaging techniques mean we are able to investigate different and specific areas of the human brain and see how they regulate people’s behavior," according to Dr. Frederic Boy, School of Psychology, who led the research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

"What is clear is that the way people behave results from a complex interaction between a number of genetic, social and environmental factors, what we’ve found is that one of the reasons why some men act impulsively may be related to the lower concentration of GABA in a specific part of men’s brains."

The scientists studied male undergraduate students with no history of or substance dependence.

They underwent a specialized magnetic resonance spectroscopy brain scan, an imaging technique that allows measuring the amount of GABA in small regions of the brain followed by a questionnaire which helped assess different aspects of impulsivity, an important component of self-control.

The team found that individuals with more prefrontal GABA had lower scores in one aspect of impulsivity called the "feeling of urgency", the tendency to act rashly in response to distress or other strong emotions and urges. Inversely individuals with lower GABA tended to have higher urgency ratings.

The link with GABA was specific to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region previously implicated in higher cognitive functions.

The team hope that their research helps show a specific relationship between the brain’s basic physiology, such as GABA-mediated signalling, and complex behavioral regulation can be uncovered.

Dr. Boy adds: "The ability to regulate our behaviour in response to a constantly changing physical and social world is key to adapted life.

"Failure in this finely tuned mechanism is particularly important in most psychiatric disorders, where impulsivity is the second most common symptom. We hope this research will lead to further studies and help bridge the gap between recent genetic studies and imaging studies of psychiatric disorders. "

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NANOBRAIN
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
I think your on the right track 100%.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.