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The right temporoparietal junction enables delay of gratification by allowing decision makers to focus on future events


Soutschek, Alexander; Moisa, Marius; Ruff, Christian C; Tobler, Philippe N (2020). The right temporoparietal junction enables delay of gratification by allowing decision makers to focus on future events. PLoS Biology, 18(8):e3000800.

Abstract

Studies of neural processes underlying delay of gratification usually focus on prefrontal networks related to curbing affective impulses. Here, we provide evidence for an alternative mechanism that facilitates delaying gratification by mental orientation towards the future. Combining continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) with functional neuroimaging, we tested how the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) facilitates processing of future events and thereby promotes delay of gratification. Participants performed an intertemporal decision task and a mental time-travel task in the MRI scanner before and after receiving cTBS over the rTPJ or the vertex (control site). rTPJ cTBS led to both stronger temporal discounting for longer delays and reduced processing of future relative to past events in the mental time-travel task. This finding suggests that the rTPJ contributes to the ability to delay gratification by facilitating mental representation of outcomes in the future. On the neural level, rTPJ cTBS led to a reduction in the extent to which connectivity of rTPJ with striatum reflected the value of delayed rewards, indicating a role of rTPJ–striatum connectivity in constructing neural representations of future rewards. Together, our findings provide evidence that the rTPJ is an integral part of a brain network that promotes delay of gratification by facilitating mental orientation to future rewards.

Abstract

Studies of neural processes underlying delay of gratification usually focus on prefrontal networks related to curbing affective impulses. Here, we provide evidence for an alternative mechanism that facilitates delaying gratification by mental orientation towards the future. Combining continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) with functional neuroimaging, we tested how the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) facilitates processing of future events and thereby promotes delay of gratification. Participants performed an intertemporal decision task and a mental time-travel task in the MRI scanner before and after receiving cTBS over the rTPJ or the vertex (control site). rTPJ cTBS led to both stronger temporal discounting for longer delays and reduced processing of future relative to past events in the mental time-travel task. This finding suggests that the rTPJ contributes to the ability to delay gratification by facilitating mental representation of outcomes in the future. On the neural level, rTPJ cTBS led to a reduction in the extent to which connectivity of rTPJ with striatum reflected the value of delayed rewards, indicating a role of rTPJ–striatum connectivity in constructing neural representations of future rewards. Together, our findings provide evidence that the rTPJ is an integral part of a brain network that promotes delay of gratification by facilitating mental orientation to future rewards.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Neuroscience, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:10 August 2020
Deposited On:05 Oct 2020 08:05
Last Modified:10 Oct 2020 06:26
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1544-9173
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000800
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100019L_173248
  • : Project TitleEffects of acute stress on social behavior: Combining model-based neuroeconomics and social-affective neuroscience
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  • : Project TitleGENS - Genomic Approach to Study the Role of Bacterioplankton in the Sulfur Cycle
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  • : Project Title
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  • : Grant IDCRSII5_177277
  • : Project TitleThe Foundations of Successful Financial Decision Making
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_165884
  • : Project TitleThe role of dopamine in value-based decision making
  • : FunderVelux Foundation
  • : Grant ID981
  • : Project TitleMotivating change, changing motivation: A neuroscientific examination of effort evaluation and engagement in healthy older adults
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID725355
  • : Project TitleBrain networks controlling social decisions
  • : FunderDFG
  • : Grant IDSO 1636/2-1
  • : Project TitleEmmy Noether fellowship

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