In intertemporal choice (ITC), people discount future rewards in proportion to the time delay until reward receipt. Despite recent non-invasive brain stimulation studies suggesting a general causal link between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) activity and ITC impulsivity, results regarding the functional specificity of dlPFC are mixed. We used high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) to map changes in causal impulsivity through bi-directional modulation of left and right dlPFC during ITC. Model-free and model-based analyses demonstrated that anodal and cathodal stimulation of left dlPFC, but not right dlPFC, decreased and increased impulsivity, respectively. Critically, an individual differences analysis revealed that modulation of impulsivity was contingent on participants' baseline impulsivity. Overall, our results might reconcile the discrepancies in the existing literature and suggest a baseline-dependent role for left dlPFC during ITC.
- Delay discounting
- Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
- Intertemporal choice
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience