Modafinil can quash impulsivity?

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 03, 2013 07:50 hrs

Copenhagen, Feb 3 (IANS) An impulsive approach to food, alcohol or drug often develops into full blown addiction, with deleterious effects -- but a new drug may help people quell these uncontrollable urges.

For instance, modafinil (Provigil), a drug originally developed to increase wakefulness, may help some people cut down on drinking by regulating their impulses, according Lianne Schmaal and colleagues, who conducted the study at the University of Amsterdam.

Although modafinil is for the treatment of several sleep disorders, it has been shown to enhance cognition.

Such beneficial effects have been observed in healthy individuals and in schizophrenics and those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the journal Biological Psychiatry reports.

The researchers also measured participants' underlying brain activity while they completed a stop signal task designed to measure impulsive behaviour, according to an Amsterdam statement.

"This line of research adopts a strategy from the attention deficit disorder 'playbook'. Modafinil has effects that resemble amphetamine.

"This interesting new study suggests that, if you are impulsive, modafinil may help your self-control," said John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

"Most importantly, the study showed that modafinil had a positive effect in patients with high initial levels of impulsivity, whereas modafinil had a detrimental effect in patients with low initial levels of impulsivity.

"Positive effects of modafinil were associated with normalization of brain activation and connectivity patterns during the stop signal task," said Schmaal.

These findings indicate that baseline levels of impulsivity should be taken into account when considering treatment with modafinil.

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