Investing in the future: Stimulation of the medial prefrontal cortex reduces discounting of delayed rewards

Sang Soo Cho, Yuko Koshimori, Kelly Aminian, Ignacio Obeso, Pablo Rusjan, Anthony E. Lang, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Sylvain Houle, Antonio P. Strafella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Generally, rewards that are received sooner are often preferred over future rewards, and the time between the choice and the reception of the reward is an important factor that influences our decisions, a phenomenon called delay discounting (DD). In DD, the medial prefrontal cortex (MePFC) and striatal dopamine neurotransmission both play an important role. We used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to transiently activate the MePFC to evaluate its behavioral effect on the DD paradigm, and subsequently to measure its effect on striatal dopamine. Twenty-four right-handed young healthy subjects (11 females; age: 22.1±2.9 years) underwent DD following 10 Hz-rTMS of the MePFC and vertex stimulation (control condition). Thereafter, 11 subjects (5 females; age: 22.2±2.87 years) completed the PET study at rest using 11 C-(+)-PHNO following 10 Hz-rTMS of the MePFC and vertex. Modulation of the MePFC excitability influenced the subjective level of DD for delayed rewards and interfered with synaptic dopamine level in the striatum. The present study yielded findings that might reconcile the role of these areas in interoral decision making and dopamine modulation, suggesting that the subjective sense of time and value of reward are critically controlled by these important regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-553
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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