Psychol Med. 2021 Jun 25:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S003329172100252X. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: People who tend to impulsively choose smaller, sooner rewards over larger, later rewards are at increased risk for addiction and psychiatric disorders. A neurobiological measure of the tendency to overvalue immediate gratification could facilitate the study of individuals who are susceptible to these mental disorders. The objective of this research was to develop a cortical assay of impulsive choice for immediate rewards.

METHODS: A cortex-based assay of impulsive choice was developed using 1105 healthy adults from the Human Connectome Project, and then cross-validated in two independent samples of adults with elevated rates of psychiatric disorders.

RESULTS: Study 1: Cortical delay discounting (C-DD) was developed using a multivariate additive model of gray matter thickness across both hemispheres. Higher C-DD corresponded to thinner cortex and greater impulsive choice for immediate rewards. It also predicted cannabis use beyond established risk factors for drug use, including familial substance use, childhood conduct problems, personality traits, and cognitive functioning. Study 2: C-DD replicated the association with delay discounting performance from study 1. Structural equation modeling showed C-DD covaried with symptoms of externalizing, but not internalizing disorders. Study 3: C-DD positively predicted future delay discounting behavior (6-34 months later).

CONCLUSIONS: Across three studies, a cortical assay of impulsive choice evidenced consistent associations with drug use and delay discounting task performance. It was also uniquely associated with psychiatric disorders that share impulsivity as a core feature. Together, findings support the utility of C-DD as a neurobiological assay of impulsive decision-making and a possible biomarker of externalizing disorders.

PMID:34167611 | DOI:10.1017/S003329172100252X


Source: ncbi 2

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