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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impulsivity : a link between bipolar and alcohol use disorders Tompkins, Season C.


There are many commonalities between bipolar and alcohol use disorders which suggest a common etiology, or vulnerability, for these disorders. Impulsivity is a shared feature of both disorders which may help to identify an underlying link between the disorders. The presented studies used an undergraduate sample to examine personality, behavioural, and electroencephalogram (EEG) measures which have previously been linked to either bipolar or alcohol use disorders, or to both disorders. The first study examined self-report impulsivity as a mediator of the relationship between hypomanic personality and alcohol use. Individuals from the first study were then invited to participate in a second study using delay discounting, a behavioural measure of impulsivity, and EEG measures, which have been related to bipolar and alcohol use disorders. In the first study, higher hypomanic personality was related to higher impulsivity and alcohol use. Impulsivity was also positively related to alcohol use. In this study, impulsivity mediated the relationship between hypomanic personality and various measures of alcohol use. Specifically, Sensation Seeking and Negative Urgency were the UPPS-P scales found to most often mediate the relationships between hypomanic personality and alcohol use. In the second study, hypomanic personality, Positive Urgency, and alcohol use were all positively correlated with delay discounting rates. However, Positive Urgency did not significantly mediate the relationship between hypomanic personality or alcohol use and delay discounting. With regard to EEG measures, there were some findings showing impulsivity, hypomanic personality, and alcohol use related to longer latencies of the P300 event-related potential, but not smaller amplitudes. This lack of EEG findings may be explained by the relatively healthy sample of undergraduate participants that did not endorse severe enough psychopathology to show the associations previously seen in clinical samples.

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