Separate neural systems value immediate and delayed monetary rewards

Samuel M. McClure, David I. Laibson, George Loewenstein, Jonathan D. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1819 Scopus citations

Abstract

When humans are offered the choice between rewards available at different points in time, the relative values of the options are discounted according to their expected delays until delivery. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined the neural correlates of time discounting while subjects made a series of choices between monetary reward options that varied by delay to delivery. We demonstrate that two separate systems are involved in such decisions. Parts of the limbic system associated with the midbrain dopamine system, including paralimbic cortex, are preferentially activated by decisions involving immediately available rewards. In contrast, regions of the lateral prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex are engaged uniformly by intertemporal choices irrespective of delay. Furthermore, the relative engagement of the two systems is directly associated with subjects' choices, with greater relative fronto-parietal activity when subjects choose longer term options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-507
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume306
Issue number5695
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Separate neural systems value immediate and delayed monetary rewards'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this