Impulsivity and Compulsivity

The research done by Eat2beNICE focusses on impulsivity and compulsivity. Maladaptive or uncontrolled impulsivity and compulsivity are part of several mental illnesses, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. High levels of impulsivity and compulsivity can be very harmful, as they increase the risk for crime, injury and mortality [5].

Impulsivity is defined as “the tendency to act quickly and unpredictably without apparent concern for consequences” [67]. You can read more about impulsivity here. Compulsivity is “the performance of repetitive and functionally impairing overt or covert behavior without adaptive function, performed in a habitual or stereotyped fashion, either according to rigid rules or as a means of avoiding perceived negative consequences” [8]. You can read more about compulsivity here.

Although they seem very different, impulsivity and compulsivity share a profound feeling of ‘lack of control’ and are thought to share similar neural mechanisms that involve the dysfunctional inhibition of thoughts and behaviours [9]. However, we still know very little about how to reduce impulsivity and compulsivity, or protect people from developing these traits in a harmful way. That is why in theEat2beNICE research consortium / we are investigating the role of diet, socioeconomic status and genetics in developing – and preventing – impulsivity and compulsivity problems.