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Reduced Sensitivity to Immediate Reward during Decision-Making in Older than Younger Adults

Author(s): Eppinger, Ben; Nystrom, Leigh E.; Cohen, Jonathan D.

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Abstract: We examined whether older adults differ from younger adults in the degree to which they favor immediate over delayed rewards during decision-making. To examine the neural correlates of age-related differences in delay discounting we acquired functional MR images while participants made decisions between smaller but sooner and larger but later monetary rewards. The behavioral results show age-related reductions in delay discounting. Less impulsive decision-making in older adults was associated with lower ventral striatal activations to immediate reward. Furthermore, older adults showed an overall higher percentage of delayed choices and reduced activity in the dorsal striatum than younger adults. This points to a reduced reward sensitivity of the dorsal striatum in older adults. Taken together, our findings indicate that less impulsive decision-making in older adults is due to a reduced sensitivity of striatal areas to reward. These age-related changes in reward sensitivity may result from transformations in dopaminergic neuromodulation with age.
Publication Date: 24-May-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 24-May-2012
Citation: Eppinger, Ben, Nystrom, Leigh E, Cohen, Jonathan D. (2012). Reduced Sensitivity to Immediate Reward during Decision-Making in Older than Younger Adults. PLoS ONE, 7 (5), e36953 - e36953. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036953
DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036953
EISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e36953 - e36953
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: PLoS ONE
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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