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Impulsivity to Compulsivity....

Shifting from impulsivity to compulsivity Drug addiction provides a good example of the shift from impulsivity to compulsivity that comes with migration from ventral to dorsal circuits. The impulse to take a drug initially leads to great pleasure and satisfaction (a “high”). If this happens infrequently, the behaviour may be a bit “naughty” but will not necessarily progress to compulsivity. With chronic substance use, compulsivity may develop as an individual’s drive turns from seeking pleasure to seeking relief from distressing symptoms of withdrawal and anticipation of obtaining the drug. As an individual moves from an impulsive disorder to a mixed compulsive/ impulsive disorder, there is a shift from positive to negative reinforcement driving the motivated behaviour and increasing control by automated prepotent responses. As these arguments illustrate, drug addiction can best be conceptualized as a disorder that progresses from impulsivity to compulsivity in a cycle comprised of three stages: preoccupation/anticipation, binge/intoxication, and withdrawal/ negative affect. (Sekhar,V.)


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