Which would you prefer, a gain of $20 in 12 months or of $22 in 13 months? Most people would wait the extra month to gain the extra $2. Ask yourself the same question 365 days later: which would you prefer, $20 today or $22 in a month? Now most people would select the immediate gain of $20;a reversal in preferences. Sitting in a clinic, most drug users state a preference for avoiding drug use later in the day. Hours later, confronting an immediately available drug, their preferences reverse. These observations reveal that humans make choices by comparing the subjective values of rewards and that these values depend not just on how large a reward is but when that reward will be received. The longer gratification is delayed;the less desirable a reward appears. Empirical data suggeststhat this decrease in desirability occurs most abruptly at short delays and more gradually as delays increase. Perhaps just as interesting is the observation that essentially all vertebrates appear to show a similar pattern. What then, is the neural mechanism that sets a subjective value on delayed rewards? Neurobiological studies of decision-making have largely avoided this issue. In this application we propose to extend existing neurobiological studies of decision-making into the domain of choice-in-time. We propose to undertake this study with a combination of behavioral, physiological and functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques and to test two hypotheses that seek seek to explain choice-in-time: a standard physiological model and the dominant two-system model of economic theory. Specifically, we propose to test the hypothesis that either of these models can account for the activity of the posterior parietal cortex and the ventral striatum under a range of conditions. Pathological influences of delays on decision making are pervasive in disease. Delays distort the decisions made by children with attention-deficit disorder, pathological gamblers, drug abusers, smokers, alcoholics, cocaine and heroin addicts. Despite the fact that an abnormal sensitivity to delays controls the behavior of all of these patient groups, almost nothing is known about the mechanism of this disorder. We propose a series of experiments aimed at elucidating the basic mechanism that underlies the pathological decision making that marks inappropriate choice-in-time.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
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Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
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Babcock, Debra J
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New York University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
New York
United States
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Chung, Hui-Kuan; Tymula, Agnieszka; Glimcher, Paul (2017) The Reduction of Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Gray Matter Volume Correlates with Loss of Economic Rationality in Aging. J Neurosci 37:12068-12077
Lazzaro, Stephanie C; Rutledge, Robb B; Burghart, Daniel R et al. (2016) The Impact of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Economic Choice and Rationality. PLoS One 11:e0144080
Hart, Andrew S; Rutledge, Robb B; Glimcher, Paul W et al. (2014) Phasic dopamine release in the rat nucleus accumbens symmetrically encodes a reward prediction error term. J Neurosci 34:698-704
Burghart, Daniel R; Glimcher, Paul W; Lazzaro, Stephanie C (2013) An expected utility maximizer walks into a bar… J Risk Uncertain 46:
Levy, Dino J; Thavikulwat, Amalie C; Glimcher, Paul W (2013) State dependent valuation: the effect of deprivation on risk preferences. PLoS One 8:e53978
Levy, Dino J; Glimcher, Paul W (2012) The root of all value: a neural common currency for choice. Curr Opin Neurobiol 22:1027-38
Levy, Dino J; Glimcher, Paul W (2011) Comparing apples and oranges: using reward-specific and reward-general subjective value representation in the brain. J Neurosci 31:14693-707
Levy, Ifat; Lazzaro, Stephanie C; Rutledge, Robb B et al. (2011) Choice from non-choice: predicting consumer preferences from blood oxygenation level-dependent signals obtained during passive viewing. J Neurosci 31:118-25
Rutledge, Robb B; Dean, Mark; Caplin, Andrew et al. (2010) Testing the reward prediction error hypothesis with an axiomatic model. J Neurosci 30:13525-36
Louie, Kenway; Glimcher, Paul W (2010) Separating value from choice: delay discounting activity in the lateral intraparietal area. J Neurosci 30:5498-507

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