Lateral prefrontal cortex and self-control in intertemporal choice

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Abstract

Disruption of function of left, but not right, lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) with low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) increased choices of immediate rewards over larger delayed rewards. rTMS did not change choices involving only delayed rewards or valuation judgments of immediate and delayed rewards, providing causal evidence for a neural lateral-prefrontal cortex–based self-control mechanism in intertemporal choice.

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Figure 1: Proportion of patient choices (later-larger) as a function of the relative difference between magnitude of sooner-smaller and later-larger.

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Acknowledgements

We thank P. Glimcher, A. Rangel and T. Hare for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. This research was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation fellowships (PA001–15327 and PBZH1–110268) to B.F., US National Science Foundation grants (SES–0720932 and SES–0922743) to B.F. and E.U.W. and a Swiss National Science Foundation grant (PP00P1–123381) to D.K.

Author information

All of the authors designed the experiment and edited the manuscript. B.F. and A.R.K. conducted and analyzed the pilot studies. B.F. and D.K. collected the data. B.F., D.K., E.J.J. and E.U.W. analyzed the data and B.F., E.U.W. and E.J.J. prepared the manuscript.

Correspondence to Bernd Figner.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–7, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Data Analysis, and Supplementary Text (PDF 1350 kb)

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Figner, B., Knoch, D., Johnson, E. et al. Lateral prefrontal cortex and self-control in intertemporal choice. Nat Neurosci 13, 538–539 (2010) doi:10.1038/nn.2516

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