Distractibility, Impulsivity, and Activation of Top-down Control Resources
Skogsholm, Lauren. “Distractibility, Impulsivity, and Activation of Top-down Control Resources”, Boston College, 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1977.
Distractibility and impulsivity have long been thought of as two separate psychological processes; however, there is currently evidence that suggests otherwise. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding on the behavioral level of the interaction between these two traits. I proposed a model in which some individuals have a higher than average threshold for activation of the top-down cognitive control resources that are important for directing and maintaining attention as well as for regulating impulsive behaviors. To test the strength of this model I used an experimental paradigm that combined two different types of tasks—a spatial working memory task and a delay discounting of a primary reward (juice) task. Participants were administered the Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scale in order to be classified in terms of their trait distractibility and trait impulsivity subscale scores. The results suggest that there is indeed an association between the traits of distractibility and impulsivity, and that they may be linked by a common mechanism involving a variable threshold of activation of top-down control resources to regulate these behaviors.