Factors Affecting Temporal Discounting in Older Adults
Given the choice between a smaller immediate payout or a larger future payout, people generally prefer rewards sooner rather than later, a tendency called temporal discounting.
While most people discount future rewards and consequences to at least some extent, the degree of temporal discounting varies widely from person to person. These individual differences, in turn, are associated with a host of risky behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, gambling, borrowing excessively on credit cards and texting while driving. This study looks at the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying temporal discounting, so more targeted interventions can be developed to minimize its harmful effects.
The researchers studied 100 older adults, both cognitively normal and with mild cognitive impairment, to investigate the association between temporal discounting and both executive function and declarative memory. Study participants completed a neuropsychological testing battery, as well as an intertemporal choice task and a risky choice task.