Impulsivity as a Mediating Mechanism Between Early-Life Adversity and Addiction
AbstractEarly-life adversity, impulsivity, and dopaminergic function have all been implicated in adult drug addiction. The article by Lovic, Keen, Fletcher, and Fleming in this issue further elucidates this relationship by demonstrating that early-life adversity can increase impulsivity and decrease behavioral flexibility in adulthood. Recent literature suggests that these results are likely due to structural and functional changes in regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc), as well as altered dopamine activity. Impulsivity and behavioral inflexibility can increase susceptibility to addiction, and in turn, chronic substance abuse can impair the neurocircuitry underlying behavioral inhibition. Thus, early-life adversity may act as an entry point into a feed-forward spiral of impulsivity and addiction via the dysfunction of regions such as the OFC, NAc, and mesolimbic dopamine.