Individual differences in delay discounting: Relation to intelligence, working memory, and anterior prefrontal cortex

Noah A. Shamosh, Colin G. DeYoung, Adam E. Green, Deidre L. Reis, Matthew R. Johnson, Andrew R.A. Conway, Randall W. Engle, Todd S. Braver, Jeremy R. Gray

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    Abstract

    Lower delay discounting (better self-control) is linked to higher intelligence, but the basis of this relation is uncertain. To investigate the potential role of working memory (WM) processes, we assessed delay discounting, intelligence (g), WM (span tasks, 3-back task), and WM-related neural activity (using functional magnetic resonance imaging) in 103 healthy adults. Delay discounting was negatively correlated with g and WM. WM explained no variance in delay discounting beyond that explained by g, which suggests that processes through which WM relates to delay discounting are shared by g. WM-related neural activity in left anterior prefrontal cortex (Brodmann's area 10) covaried with g, r =.26, and delay discounting, r = -.40, and partially mediated the relation between g and delay discounting. Overall, the results suggest that delay discounting is associated with intelligence in part because of processes instantiated in anterior prefrontal cortex, a region known to support the integration of diverse information. ©

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)904-911
    Number of pages8
    JournalPsychological Science
    Volume19
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

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    Shamosh, N. A., DeYoung, C. G., Green, A. E., Reis, D. L., Johnson, M. R., Conway, A. R. A., Engle, R. W., Braver, T. S., & Gray, J. R. (2008). Individual differences in delay discounting: Relation to intelligence, working memory, and anterior prefrontal cortex. Psychological Science, 19(9), 904-911. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02175.x