Maturation of limbic corticostriatal activation and connectivity associated with developmental changes in temporal discounting
Christakou, A., Brammer, M. and Rubia, K. (2011) Maturation of limbic corticostriatal activation and connectivity associated with developmental changes in temporal discounting. NeuroImage, 54 (2). pp. 1344-1354. ISSN 1053-8119
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.08.067
Temporal discounting (TD) matures with age, alongside other markers of increased impulse control, and coherent, self-regulated behaviour. Discounting paradigms quantify the ability to refrain from preference of immediate rewards, in favour of delayed, larger rewards. As such, they measure temporal foresight and the ability to delay gratification, functions that develop slowly into adulthood. We investigated the neural maturation that accompanies the previously observed age-related behavioural changes in discounting, from early adolescence into mid-adulthood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging of a hypothetical discounting task with monetary rewards delayed in the week to year range. We show that age-related reductions in choice impulsivity were associated with changes in activation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), ventral striatum (VS), insula, inferior temporal gyrus, and posterior parietal cortex. Limbic frontostriatal activation changes were specifically associated with age-dependent reductions in impulsive choice, as part of a more extensive network of brain areas showing age-related changes in activation, including dorsolateral PFC, inferior parietal cortex, and subcortical areas. The maturational pattern of functional connectivity included strengthening in activation coupling between ventromedial and dorsolateral PFC, parietal and insular cortices during selection of delayed alternatives, and between vmPFC and VS during selection of immediate alternatives. We conclude that maturational mechanisms within limbic frontostriatal circuitry underlie the observed post-pubertal reductions in impulsive choice with increasing age, and that this effect is dependent on increased activation coherence within a network of areas associated with discounting behaviour and inter-temporal decision-making.
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