Background: Impulsivity is a complex multi-dimensional combination of behaviors which
include: ineffective impulse control, premature decision-making and inability to delay gratification.
Objective: The aim of this work was to explore how food odor perception and its emotional value is
affected in impulsive children.
Methods: Here we compared two cohorts of impulsive and control children with ages between 10 and
16 years. Both groups underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, in which foodrelated
odor-cues were presented to all of them.
Results: Differences in regions of blood oxygen level dependent activation, as well as connectivity,
were calculated. Activations were significant for all odors in the impulsive group in the temporal lobe,
cerebellum, supplementary motor area, frontal cortex, medial cingulate cortex, insula, precuneus, precentral,
para-hippocampal and calcarine cortices.
Conclusion: Connectivity results showed that the expected emotional reward, based on odor perceived
and processed in temporal lobes, was the main cue driving responses of impulsive children. This was
followed by self-consciousness, the sensation of interaction with the surroundings and feelings of
comfort and happiness, modulated by the precuneus together with somatosensory cortex and cingulum.
Furthermore, reduced connectivity to frontal areas as well as to other sensory integration areas
(piriform cortex), combined to show different sensory processing strategies for olfactory emotional
cues in impulsive children. Finally, we hypothesize that the cerebellum plays a pivotal role in
modulating decision-making for impulsive children.