Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Just a little (lateral prefrontal) patience

A new study finds causal evidence that the lateral prefrontal cortex, implicated in executive function, is critical for making decisions in which forgoing a small immediate reward can lead to a better future outcome. These results suggest that this area provides a neural signal that biases behavior in favor of delaying gratification.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Forward-thinking decisions?


  1. Figner, B. et al. Nat. Neurosci. 13, 538–539 (2010).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Gogtay, N. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 8174–8179 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. McClure, S.M., Laibson, D.I., Loewenstein, G. & Cohen, J.D. Science 306, 503–507 (2004).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Weber, B.J. & Huettel, S.A. Brain Res. 1234, 104–115 (2008).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Kable, J.W. & Glimcher, P.W. Nat. Neurosci. 10, 1625–1633 (2007).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Monterosso, J.R. et al. Hum. Brain Mapp. 28, 383–393 (2007).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Boettiger, C.A. et al. J. Neurosci. 27, 14383–14391 (2007).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Shamosh, N.A. et al. Psychol. Sci. 19, 904–911 (2008).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Ballard, K. & Knutson, B. Neuroimage 45, 143–150 (2009).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Bjork, J.M., Momenan, R. & Hommer, D.W. Biol. Psychiatry 65, 710–713 (2009).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Fellows, L.K. & Farah, M.J. Neuropsychologia 43, 1214–1221 (2005).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Hare, T.A., Camerer, C.F. & Rangel, A. Science 324, 646–648 (2009).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Kable, J.W. & Glimcher, P.W. Neuron 63, 733–745 (2009).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Miller, E.K. & Cohen, J.D. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 24, 167–202 (2001).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Knoch, D., Pascual-Leone, A., Meyer, K., Treyer, V. & Fehr, E. Science 314, 829–832 (2006).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joseph W Kable.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kable, J. Just a little (lateral prefrontal) patience. Nat Neurosci 13, 523–524 (2010).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing