Executive functions, impulsivity, and inhibitory control in adolescents: A structural equation model

Emanuele Fino, Sergio Melogno, Paolo Iliceto, Sara D'Aliesio, Maria Antonietta Pinto, Gabriella Candilera, Ugo Sabatello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Adolescence represents a critical period for brain development, addressed by neurodevelopmental models to frontal, subcortical-limbic, and striatal activation, a pattern associated with rise of impulsivity and deficits in inhibitory control. The present study aimed at studying the association between self-report measures of impulsivity and inhibitory control with executive function in adolescents, employing structural equation modeling. Method. Tests were administered to 434 high school students. Acting without thinking was measured through the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and the Dickman Impulsivity Inventory, reward sensitivity through the Behavioral Activation System, and sensation seeking through the Zuckerman–Kuhlman–Aluja Personali- ty Questionnaire. Inhibitory control was assessed through the Behavioral Inhibition System. The performance at the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task indicated executive function. Three models were specified using Sample Covariance Matrix, and the estimated parameters using Maximum Likelihood. Results. In the final model, impulsivity and inhibitory control predicted executive function, but sensation seeking did not. The fit of the model to data was excellent. Conclusions. The hypothesis that inhibitory control and impulsivity are predictors of executive function was supported. Our results appear informative of the validity of self-report measures to examine the relation between impulsivity traits rather than others to regulatory function of cognition and behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32–38
JournalAdvances in Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2014


  • executive function
  • impulsivity
  • inhibitory control
  • sensation seeking
  • personality


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