Behavioral and neural correlates of delay of gratification 40 years later

Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 09/2011; 108(36):14998-5003. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1108561108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We examined the neural basis of self-regulation in individuals from a cohort of preschoolers who performed the delay-of-gratification task 4 decades ago. Nearly 60 individuals, now in their mid-forties, were tested on "hot" and "cool" versions of a go/nogo task to assess whether delay of gratification in childhood predicts impulse control abilities and sensitivity to alluring cues (happy faces). Individuals who were less able to delay gratification in preschool and consistently showed low self-control abilities in their twenties and thirties performed more poorly than did high delayers when having to suppress a response to a happy face but not to a neutral or fearful face. This finding suggests that sensitivity to environmental hot cues plays a significant role in individuals' ability to suppress actions toward such stimuli. A subset of these participants (n = 26) underwent functional imaging for the first time to test for biased recruitment of frontostriatal circuitry when required to suppress responses to alluring cues. Whereas the prefrontal cortex differentiated between nogo and go trials to a greater extent in high delayers, the ventral striatum showed exaggerated recruitment in low delayers. Thus, resistance to temptation as measured originally by the delay-of-gratification task is a relatively stable individual difference that predicts reliable biases in frontostriatal circuitries that integrate motivational and control processes.

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Available from: Ian H Gotlib, Sep 29, 2015
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    • "Among others, Go/No-Go tasks have been used to investigate inhibitory control (e.g., Cragg, Fox, Nation, Reid, & Anderson, 2009). Converging findings highlight the structural and functional aspects of prefrontal brain regions playing a role in this type of inhibitory control of actions (Casey et al., 1997; Munakata et al., 2011). Often, joint action situations share the same characteristics with Go/No-Go tasks; for instance, turn-taking interactions require refraining from acting when it is the action partner's turn. "
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    ABSTRACT: From early in life, young children eagerly engage in social interactions. Yet, they still have difficulties in performing well-coordinated joint actions with others. Adult literature suggests that two processes are important for smooth joint action coordination: action prediction and inhibitory control. The aim of the current study was to disentangle the potential role of these processes in the early development of joint action coordination. Using a simple turn-taking game, we assessed 2½-year-old toddlers' joint action coordination, focusing on timing variability and turn-taking accuracy. In two additional tasks, we examined their action prediction capabilities with an eye-tracking paradigm and examined their inhibitory control capabilities with a classic executive functioning task (gift delay task). We found that individual differences in action prediction and inhibitory action control were distinctly related to the two aspects of joint action coordination. Toddlers who showed more precision in their action predictions were less variable in their action timing during the joint play. Furthermore, toddlers who showed more inhibitory control in an individual context were more accurate in their turn-taking performance during the joint action. On the other hand, no relation between timing variability and inhibitory control or between turn-taking accuracy and action prediction was found. The current results highlight the distinct role of action prediction and inhibitory action control for the quality of joint action coordination in toddlers. Underlying neurocognitive mechanisms and implications for processes involved in joint action coordination in general are discussed. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 07/2015; 139:203-220. DOI:10.1016/j.jecp.2015.06.005 · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    • "Please cite this article in press as: Mary K. Rothbart, Michael I. Posner, The developing brain in a multitasking world, Developmental Review (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2014.12.006 connectivity than others and are therefore better able to exercise the various functions of self-regulation, including shifting and focusing of attention and resisting distraction. Moreover, childhood assessments of self-control (Moffitt et al., 2011) and self-regulation (Casey et al., 2011) have predicted income and overall health and welfare in adults. How do these individual differences arise? "
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    ABSTRACT: To understand the problem of multitasking, it is necessary to examine the brain's attention networks that underlie the ability to switch attention between stimuli and tasks and to maintain a single focus among distractors. In this paper we discuss the development of brain networks related to the functions of achieving the alert state, orienting to sensory events, and developing self-control. These brain networks are common to everyone, but their efficiency varies among individuals and reflects both genes and experience. Training can alter brain networks. We consider two forms of training: (1) practice in tasks that involve particular networks, and (2) changes in brain state through such practices as meditation that may influence many networks. Playing action video games and multitasking are themselves methods of training the brain that can lead to improved performance but also to overdependence on media activity. We consider both of these outcomes and ideas about how to resist overdependence on media. Overall, our paper seeks to inform the reader about what has been learned about attention that can influence multitasking over the course of development.
    Developmental Review 02/2015; 35. DOI:10.1016/j.dr.2014.12.006 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Finally, to investigate the potential impact of emotion discrimination on the task performance, and to determine how successfully children were able to discriminate between various facial expressions, we used d-prime (d 0 ) which provides an index of sensitivity to each stimulus in a go/no-go task. d 0 , which takes into account the respondent's bias, can be used as an index of emotion recognition (Tottenham, Hare, & Casey, 2011). The following formula was used to calculate this index: [d 0 = z(H) À z(F)]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent research shows that children with motor coordination problems (or developmental coordination disorder - DCD) show deficits in not only cool executive function (EF), but also hot EF. We aimed to determine whether this deficit of hot EF is due to heightened sensitivity to rewarding stimuli, specifically, or to a general deficit of cognitive control, like inhibition. Using two versions of a go/no-go task, one with neutral facial expressions and the other with happy and fearful faces, we compared 12 children with DCD with 28 typically-developing children, aged 7-12years. Like earlier studies, children responded faster to happy faces. Both groups showed comparable accuracy in response to go targets, and also had similar commission errors, except when the no-go stimulus was a happy face. Importantly, the DCD group made significantly more commission errors to happy faces failing to suppress their response on more than half of the no-go trials. These results suggest a heightened sensitivity to emotionally significant distractors in DCD; this type of impulsivity may undermine self-regulation in DCD, with possible implications for adaptive function and emotional well-being. We argue that the interaction of cognitive control and emotion processing networks may be disrupted in DCD or delayed in development. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Human Movement Science 11/2014; 38:209-224. DOI:10.1016/j.humov.2014.09.008 · 1.60 Impact Factor
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