Adaptation to external demands in the general population 

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Impulsivity: impulsiveness and impulsive behaviors

Although the studies diverged on the number and on the definitions of their components, a convergent factorial structure of impulsivity has emerged from experimental studies. Impulsivity comprises impulsiveness and impulsive behaviors. However, this categoriza-tion can be detailed even further. Indeed, impulsiveness encompasses various personality aspects whereas impulsive behaviors gather various behavioral manifestations both in decision-making and in motor actions. The following sections will be dedicated to the exploration of the complete structure of the impulsivity construct, and the corresponding methodological tools. A schematic overview is presented in the Figure 1.2.

Assessing impulsiveness

Personality is defined as distinctive and recurrent patterns of thoughts, feelings and be-haviors that occur in response to particular situational demands (Poletti & Bonuccelli, 2012). The personality component of impulsivity, hereafter referred to as impulsive-ness, refers to the inter-individual differences in the predisposition to reveal impulsive behaviors under certain situations and contexts. Impulsiveness is therefore an individual characteristic that is stable over time. These predispositions are mostly assessed by self-reported measures. Self-reported impulsivity measures are abundant and try to cover the large range of impulsive aspects reported earlier (e.g., failure to wait, lack of regard for future consequences, disinhibition, novelty and sensation seeking). Some questionnaires assess impulsiveness as a facet of a more general personality profile (e.g., EASI-III, PRF), whereas others focused on one or multiple specific impulsive-related personality aspects (e.g., SSS, BIS-11). Hereafter, I will briefly present some of the questionnaires and then, I will describe how the UPPS questionnaire (Whiteside & Lynam, 2001), that I used to assess impulsiveness, came to be developed.
As impulsiveness is considered as a large facet of the personality spectrum, some impulsive-related aspects (e.g., action on the spur of the moment, lack of deliberation) are often assessed with general personality questionnaires. Hence, impulsiveness is one of the four factors of the EASI-III (Buss & Plomin, 1975) and one of the 20 personality dimensions that should be assessed following the third edition of the Personality Research Form (PRF, Jackson, 1984). In the Five Factor Model (FFM, Costa & McCrae, 1992), the Neuroticism, Extraversion and Conscientiousness facets of personality are thought to capture some impulsive-related aspects. More specifically, the Impulsiveness and the Self -Discipline facets of both the Neurotiscism and the Conscientiousness factors as-sess impulsiveness as the inability to resist the temptation to act. Moreover, Excitement Seeking and Deliberation facets of the Extraversion and the Conscientiousness factors, re-spectively, evaluate impatience, the lack of forethought and the need for adventure.

Impulsivity: impulsiveness and impulsive behaviors

need for adventure, and other associated personality aspects, were specifically assessed by the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS, Zuckerman, 1994). Each of these personality question-naires assesses specific impulsive-related aspects with a few number of items only (e.g., 5 to 16 for the EASI-III and the PRF, respectively). Therefore, these questionnaires are not specific to the assessment of impulsiveness as they do not cover the whole spectrum.
To increase the specificity of the psychometric tools for impulsiveness, authors have therefore constructed questionnaires to evaluate impulsiveness only. The Dickman Im-pulsivity Inventory (Dickman, 1990) was constructed to differentiate functional from dys-functional impulsiveness. Integrating views from medical, psychological, behavioral and social approaches, Barratt and colleagues developed a questionnaire broadly used in re-search (Barratt, 1993; Gerbing, Ahadi, & Patton, 1987; Patton, Stanford, & Barratt, 1995). In the latest version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11 Patton et al.,
1995), a total of three factors were identified: Attentional, Motor and Non-planification impulsiveness. Attentional Impulsiveness refers to the inability to focus on a task and the tendency to experience intrusive and racing thoughts (attention and cognitive instability subscales). This aspect of impulsiveness is related to boredom during complex tasks (e.g., I get easily bored when solving tough problems). Motor Impulsiveness is composed of the tendency to act on the spur of the moment and not to follow a consistent lifestyle (e.g., often changes of jobs or homes). Finally, the Non-planification Impulsiveness corresponds to the lack of planification and careful thoughts before acting. Notably, the assessment of impulsiveness in the BIS-11 appears to lack of an evaluation of sensation and novelty seeking.


Measuring impulsive behaviors

Impulsive behaviors refer to the temporary impulsive responses observed within a pre-defined window of time (i.e., what an impulsive individual produces in the current situ-ation). In experimental settings, the set-up intends to capture the behavioral manifesta-tions of the underlying personality traits (Sharma, Markon, & Clark, 2014). In cognitive research, most studies exploring the factorial structure of impulsivity revealed a distinc-tion between behavioral activation and behavioral inhibition, commonly referred to as decision-making and action, respectively (e.g., Meda et al., 2009; Reynolds et al., 2006; Lane et al., 2003; MacKillop et al., 2016). Both behavioral components can be further divided as a function of the methodological tools used to conduct the assessment (see Figure 1.2). The two behavioral components of impulsivity, and their subdivisions, will be defined and described in the following sections.

Table of contents :

I Foreword 
II Introduction 
1 Impulsivity, impulsiveness and impulsive behaviors 
1.1 Defining impulsivity
1.2 Impulsivity: impulsiveness and impulsive behaviors
1.2.1 Assessing impulsiveness
1.2.2 Measuring impulsive behaviors
2 From inhibition to cognitive control to investigate impulsivity 
2.1 Impulsivity is not disinhibition
2.1.1 Taxonomy of the inhibition process
2.1.2 Inhibition in impulsive individuals
2.2 Investigating the cognitive control system
2.2.1 Definition and paradigms
2.2.2 What controls control: The conflict-monitoring loop theory
2.2.3 How do we control: The dual mechanisms of control (DMC)
3 The two-level investigation of the cognitive control system 
3.1 Efficiency in the cognitive control components
3.1.1 Monitoring conflicts in the environment
3.1.2 Preparing and reacting to conflicts in the environment
3.2 Flexible shift between the proactive and reactive mechanisms
3.2.1 The AX-CPT paradigm
3.2.2 Implementation of the optimal control mechanism
4 The aim of my thesis 
III Experimental contribution 
5 Adaptation to external demands in the general population 
5.1 Study I
5.2 Preliminary results with impulsive behaviors
6 Adaptation to external demands in a pathological population 
6.1 Study II
7 Adaptation to internal demands in the general population 
7.1 Study III
8 The monitoring system in the general population 
8.1 Study IV
8.2 Supplementary analysis
8.3 ERN/Ne and adaptation of control mechanisms
9 The role of heart rate variability in the adaptation 
9.1 Heart rate variability and adaptation to external demands
9.2 Heart rate variability and the monitoring system
IV General discussion 
10 Main findings of my thesis 
11 Impulsivity and the adaptation of control mechanisms 
12 Explaining the lack of adaptation of control mechanisms 
12.1 Executive functions impairments
12.2 Reduced activity in the monitoring system
13 Improving adaptive control 
13.1 Targeting executive functions
13.2 Targeting the heart rate variability
14 General conclusion 


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