Framing the future first: Medial temporal lobe activation discriminates delay and acceleration framing in intertemporal choice.

Crystal Reeck, Bernd Figner, Elke U. Weber, Jason Steffener, Amy R. Krosch, Tor D. Wager, Eric J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People often discount future rewards, embracing smaller rewards that are delivered sooner rather than waiting for larger rewards delivered later. Previous behavioral research has demonstrated that people are more patient when options are presented as decisions to accelerate rather than delay consumption. This behavioral effect is well-established in the literature, but the underlying neural mechanisms have not been identified. We examined the neural correlates of delay and acceleration framing in intertemporal choice. We find greater activation in the hippocampus, amygdala, and anterior insula when options were framed as decisions to delay rather than accelerate consumption. These findings are consistent with theoretical accounts that posit that preferences are constructed. Specifically, the heightened activation observed in medial temporal regions may reflect more vivid representations of sooner outcomes in delay versus acceleration framing. These results provide insight into contextual effects in intertemporal choice specifically and preference construction more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-80
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Keywords

  • decision neuroscience
  • framing effects
  • hippocampus
  • intertemporal choice
  • preference construction

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