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Impulse Control Disorders: Lifespan Perspectives

The majority of developmental theories identify impulse control as a complex or “superordinate” construct that entails the inhibition of thought, behavior, and emotion across modalities (i.e., motor, cognition, emotional, appetitive). The abilities to inhibit behavior and thought and to delay gratification have been identified as the precursors to impulse control. By all accounts, these precursors are associated with a specific neural circuitry, which involves interconnections among the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain (e.g., limbic system) that emerge during the first year of life. Any delay or impairment in these fundamental aspects of impulse control may affect significant impairment or compromise functioning later in life.

The cognitive and behavioral concomitants of these precursors increase in complexity with increased age and life opportunity. Whereas ...

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