Impacts of religious semantic priming on an intertemporal discounting task: Response time effects and neural correlates

Jonathan Morgan, Dustin Clark, Yorghos Tripodis, Christopher S. Halloran, April Minsky, Wesley J. Wildman, Raymon Durso, Patrick McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that religious primes would influence intertemporal discounting behaviors in neurotypical older adults, but not in participants with Parkinson's disease (PD). Furthermore, we predicted that this priming effect would be related to functional connectivity within neural networks mediating religious cognition, decision-making, reward valuing, and prospection processes. Contrary to past research with young adults, we found a significant positive relationship between religiosity and discounting rates. Religious semantic primes did not reliably shift individual discounting rates. But religious controls did respond more quickly to intertemporal decisions under the religious priming condition than the neutral condition, compared to response time differences among the participants with PD. Differences in response time were significantly associated with functional connectivity between the nucleus accumbens and various regions, including the left anterior cingulate cortex and Brodmann areas 10 and 46 in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These results suggest that religious primes influence discounting behavior via dopaminergic meso-limbic and right dorsolateral prefrontal supporting cognitive valuation and prospection processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-413
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Grant from The John Templeton Foundation titled “Neurology of Religious Cognition”, Grant number 29245 . We would also like to thank the many research assistants who helped in various stages of this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • ACC
  • Impulsivity
  • Intertemporal discounting
  • NAcc
  • Religious cognition
  • Religious priming


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