Modulation of impulsivity and reward sensitivity in intertemporal choice by striatal and midbrain dopamine synthesis in healthy adults.

Smith CT, Wallace DL, Dang LC, Aarts E, Jagust WJ, D'Esposito M, Boettiger CA
J Neurophysiol. 2016 115 (3): 1146-56

PMID: 26683066 · PMCID: PMC4808128 · DOI:10.1152/jn.00261.2015

Converging evidence links individual differences in mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine (DA) to variation in the tendency to choose immediate rewards ("Now") over larger, delayed rewards ("Later"), or "Now bias." However, to date, no study of healthy young adults has evaluated the relationship between Now bias and DA with positron emission tomography (PET). Sixteen healthy adults (ages 24-34 yr; 50% women) completed a delay-discounting task that quantified aspects of intertemporal reward choice, including Now bias and reward magnitude sensitivity. Participants also underwent PET scanning with 6-[(18)F]fluoro-l-m-tyrosine (FMT), a radiotracer that measures DA synthesis capacity. Lower putamen FMT signal predicted elevated Now bias, a more rapidly declining discount rate with increasing delay time, and reduced willingness to accept low-interest-rate delayed rewards. In contrast, lower FMT signal in the midbrain predicted greater sensitivity to increasing magnitude of the Later reward. These data demonstrate that intertemporal reward choice in healthy humans varies with region-specific measures of DA processing, with regionally distinct associations with sensitivity to delay and to reward magnitude.

MeSH Terms (14)

Adult Choice Behavior Dopamine Female Humans Impulsive Behavior Male Mesencephalon Positron-Emission Tomography Putamen Radiopharmaceuticals Reaction Time Reward Tyrosine

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