Jun 4, 2014

Effects of episodic future thinking on temporal discounting: a re-analysis of six data sets using hierarchical Bayesian parameter estimation and compilation of effect sizes

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Darren KessnerAntonius Wiehler


Temporal discounting refers to the tendency of humans and many animals to devalue rewards as a function of time. Steep discounting of value over time is associated with a range of psychiatric disorders, including substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, and therefore of potentially high clinical relevance. One cognitive factor that has repeatedly been shown to reduce temporal discounting in humans is episodic future thinking, the process of vividly imagining future outcomes, which has been linked to hippocampal mechanisms in a number of studies. However, the analytical approaches used to quantify the behavioral effects have varied widely between studies, which complicates a direct comparison of the obtained effect sizes. Here we re-analyzed temporal discounting data from previously published functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral studies (six data sets from five papers, n=204 participants in total) using an identical model structure and hierarchical Bayesian parameter estimation procedure. Analyses generally confirm robust and consistent effects of future thinking on temporal discounting, but not decision noise. We provide standardized and unstandardized effect size estimates for each data set and...Continue Reading

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