Choices are often intertemporal, requiring tradeoff of short-term and long-term outcomes. In such contexts, humans may prefer small rewards delivered immediately to larger rewards delivered after a delay, reflecting temporal discounting (TD) of delayed outcomes. The medial orbitofrontal cortex(mOFC) is consistently activated during intertemporal choice, yet its role remains unclear. Here, patients with lesions in the mOFC (mOFC patients), control patients with lesions outside the frontal lobe, and healthy individuals chose hypothetically between small-immediate and larger-delayed rewards. The type of reward varied across three TD tasks, including both primary (food) and secondary (money and discount vouchers) rewards. We found that damage to mOFC increased significantly the preference for small-immediate over larger-delayed rewards, resulting in steeper TD of future rewards in mOFC patients compared with the control groups. This held for both primary and secondary rewards. All participants, including mOFC patients, were more willing to wait for delayed money and discount vouchers than for delayed food, suggesting that mOFC patients' (impatient) choices were not due merely to poor motor impulse control or consideration of the goods at stake. These findings provide the first evidence in humans that mOFC is necessary for valuation and preference of delayed rewards for intertemporal choice.

Myopic discounting of future rewards after medial orbitofrontal damage in humans

Sellitto, Manuela;
2010-01-01

Abstract

Choices are often intertemporal, requiring tradeoff of short-term and long-term outcomes. In such contexts, humans may prefer small rewards delivered immediately to larger rewards delivered after a delay, reflecting temporal discounting (TD) of delayed outcomes. The medial orbitofrontal cortex(mOFC) is consistently activated during intertemporal choice, yet its role remains unclear. Here, patients with lesions in the mOFC (mOFC patients), control patients with lesions outside the frontal lobe, and healthy individuals chose hypothetically between small-immediate and larger-delayed rewards. The type of reward varied across three TD tasks, including both primary (food) and secondary (money and discount vouchers) rewards. We found that damage to mOFC increased significantly the preference for small-immediate over larger-delayed rewards, resulting in steeper TD of future rewards in mOFC patients compared with the control groups. This held for both primary and secondary rewards. All participants, including mOFC patients, were more willing to wait for delayed money and discount vouchers than for delayed food, suggesting that mOFC patients' (impatient) choices were not due merely to poor motor impulse control or consideration of the goods at stake. These findings provide the first evidence in humans that mOFC is necessary for valuation and preference of delayed rewards for intertemporal choice.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1474996
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