Ventral striatal dopamine transporter availability is associated with lower trait motor impulsivity in healthy adults

Christopher T. Smith, M. Danica San Juan, Linh C. Dang, Daniel T. Katz, Scott F. Perkins, Leah L. Burgess, Ronald L. Cowan, H. Charles Manning, Michael L. Nickels, Daniel O. Claassen, Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, David H. Zald

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15 Scopus citations


Impulsivity is a transdiagnostic feature of a range of externalizing psychiatric disorders. Preclinical work links reduced ventral striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) availability with heightened impulsivity and novelty seeking. However, there is a lack of human data investigating the relationship between DAT availability, particularly in subregions of the striatum, and the personality traits of impulsivity and novelty seeking. Here we collected PET measures of DAT availability (BP ND ) using the tracer 18 F-FE-PE2I in 47 healthy adult subjects and examined relations between BP ND in striatum, including its subregions: caudate, putamen, and ventral striatum (VS), and trait impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale: BIS-11) and novelty seeking (Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire: TPQ-NS), controlling for age and sex. DAT BP ND in each striatal subregion showed nominal negative associations with total BIS-11 but not TPQ-NS. At the subscale level, VS DAT BP ND was significantly associated with BIS-11 motor impulsivity (e.g., taking actions without thinking) after correction for multiple comparisons. VS DAT BP ND explained 13.2% of the variance in motor impulsivity. Our data demonstrate that DAT availability in VS is negatively related to impulsivity and suggest a particular influence of DAT regulation of dopamine signaling in VS on acting without deliberation (BIS motor impulsivity). While needing replication, these data converge with models of ventral striatal functions that emphasize its role as a key interface linking motivation to action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number269
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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