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Individual differences in functional brain connectivity predict temporal discounting preference in the transition to adolescence

By Jeya Anandakumar, Kathryn L. Mills, Eric Earl, Lourdes Irwin, Oscar Miranda-Dominguez, Damion V. Demeter, Alexandra Walton-Weston, Sarah Karalunas, Joel Nigg, Damien A. Fair

Posted 29 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/255679 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2018.07.003)

The transition from childhood to adolescence is marked by distinct changes in behavior, including how one values waiting for a large reward compared to receiving an immediate, yet smaller, reward. While previous research has emphasized the relationship between this preference and age, it is also proposed that this behavior is related to circuitry between valuation and cognitive control systems. In this study, we examined how age and intrinsic functional connectivity strength within and between these neural systems relate to changes in discounting behavior across the transition into adolescence. We used mixed-effects modeling and linear regression to assess the contributions of age and connectivity strength in predicting discounting behavior. First, we identified relevant connections in a longitudinal sample of 64 individuals who completed MRI scans and behavioral assessments 2-3 times across ages 7-15 years (137 scans). We then repeated the analysis in a separate, cross-sectional, sample of 84 individuals (7-13 years). Both samples showed an age-related increase in preference for waiting for larger rewards. Connectivity strength within and between valuation and cognitive control systems accounted for further variance not explained by age. These results suggest that individual differences in functional neural organization can account for behavioral changes typically associated with age.

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