Inhibitory Control Deficits in Childhood: Definition, Measurement, and Clinical Risk for Substance Use Disorders



This chapter examines how the behavioral trait of impulsivity, when present in childhood as feature of disruptive behavior disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder (CD), may contribute to the development of substance abuse disorders in adolescence. We discuss the relationship between the constructs of impulsivity and inhibitory control deficits and review their clinical manifestations in youth with ADHD and CD. We also review evidence suggesting that high levels of impulsivity in children can be viewed as a predictor of later substance abuse, and provide information about the possible biological underpinnings of such risk factors. The hypotheses that biological factors could potentially mediate the transition from drug experimentation to drug abuse and dependence is important for the development of prevention and treatment strategies to combat different types of addiction. Clinical considerations related to biological and psychological therapeutic interventions for impulsive types of behaviors in childhood and adolescence are also discussed.


Inhibitory Control Impulsive Behavior Delay Discount Disruptive Behavior Disorder Iowa Gambling Task 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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