Introduction: Delay discounting (DD), the preference for smaller and sooner rewards over larger and later ones, is an important behavioural phenomenon for daily functioning of increasing interest within psychopathology. The neurobiological mechanisms behind DD are not well understood and the literature on structural correlates of DD shows inconsistencies.
Methods: Here we leveraged a large openly available dataset (n = 1196) to investigate associations with memory performance and gray and white matter correlates of DD using linked independent component analysis.
Results: Greater DD was related to smaller anterior temporal gray matter volume. Associations of DD with total cortical volume, subcortical volumes, markers of white matter microscopic organization, working memory, and episodic memory scores were not significant after controlling for education and income.
Conclusion: Effects of size comparable to the one we identified would be unlikely to be replicated with sample sizes common in many previous studies in this domain, which may explain the incongruities in the literature. The paucity and small size of the effects detected in our data underscore the importance of using large samples together with methods that accommodate their statistical structure and appropriate control for confounders, as well as the need to devise paradigms with improved task parameter reliability in studies relating brain structure and cognitive abilities with DD.