Individual differences in dopamine are associated with reward discounting in clinical groups but not in healthy adults


Journal Article

Some people are more willing to make immediate, risky, or costly reward-focused choices than others, which has been hypothesized to be associated with individual differences in dopamine (DA) function. In two studies using PET imaging, one empirical (Study 1: N=144 males and females across 3 samples) and one meta-analytic (Study 2: N=307 across 12 samples), we sought to characterize associations between individual differences in DA and time, probability, and physical effort discounting in human adults. Study 1 demonstrated that individual differences in DA D2-like receptors were not associated with time or probability discounting of monetary rewards in healthy humans, and associations with physical effort discounting were inconsistent across adults of different ages. Meta-analytic results for temporal discounting corroborated our empirical finding for minimal effect of DA measures on discounting in healthy individuals, but suggested that associations between individual differences in DA and reward discounting depend on clinical features. Addictions were characterized by negative correlations between DA and discounting but other clinical conditions like Parkinson's Disease, obesity, and ADHD were characterized by positive correlations between DA and discounting. Together the results suggest that trait differences in discounting in healthy adults do not appear to be strongly associated with individual differences in D2-like receptors. The difference in meta-analytic correlation effects between healthy controls and individuals with psychopathology suggests that individual difference findings related to DA and reward discounting in clinical samples may not be reliably generalized to healthy controls, and vice-versa.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Castrellon, J; Seaman, K; Crawford, J; Young, J; Smith, C; Dang, L; Hsu, M; Cowan, R; Zald, D; Samanez-Larkin, G

Published Date

  • August 2, 2018

Pubmed Central ID

  • PPR:PPR46299

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/383810