Clinical Neurophysiology (2008)
EEG correlates of moderate Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Stefan Koelsch1,2,*, Daniela Sammler2, Sebastian Jentschke2, & Walter A. Siebel3
1 University of Sussex, Department of Psychology, Brighton, United Kingdom
2 Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, Leipzig, Germany
3 Conflict Research Center, Wiesbaden, Germany
* To whom correspondence should be addressed
Objective: We investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of moderate Intermittent
Explosive Disorder (mIED), which is characterized by uncontrollable, impulsive attacks that either manifest in aggressive outbursts of temper, or in implosive, auto-aggressive behaviour.
Methods: In two Experiments, EEG data were recorded during rest conditions, and while subjects
were presented with auditory and visual stimuli. Additionally, scores of the I7 impulsivity scale (designed to capture acting on impulse) were obtained.
Results: In Experiment 1, individuals with mIED showed a stronger increase in the power of
oscillatory activity in the beta band, along with a stronger power decrease in the theta band in response to both visual and auditory stimuli. Based on discriminant function analysis, a model of discriminant
functions was derived that clearly separated the mIED group from the control group. In Experiment 2, subjects were categorized into either of two groups (supposedly without mIED, with mIED) based on this model of
discriminant functions. Results showed that I7 impulsivity scores clearly differed between groups.
Conclusion: The present data show a relation between oscillatory brain activity and mIED. They
indicate that this brain activity is related to the impulsivity facet of impulsive action, and suggest that mIED can be assessed based on the analysis of electrophysiological data.
Significance: To our knowledge, this is the first study on EEG correlates of (m)IED. Results
open up new perspectives for future investigations on disorders characterized by substantial impulsivity.