Intrinsic prefrontal organization underlies associations between achievement motivation and delay discounting

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Achievement motivation is a core component of human decision making. However, neural mechanisms that link achievement motivation and intertemporal choice have not yet been elucidated. Here, we examined neural pathways underlying the relationship between achievement motivation and intertemporal choice using a delay discounting task and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging on 86 healthy subjects. Behaviorally, delay discounting rate was positively correlated with achievement motivation. Functional coupling of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) with the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), medial orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum was positively correlated with achievement motivation. Notably, the mediation analysis showed that the impact of achievement motivation on delay discounting was mediated by intrinsic connectivity between the dlPFC and mPFC. Our findings suggest that intrinsic organization within the prefrontal cortex plays a key role in linking achievement motivation and intertemporal choice.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971026, 31571128; 31500920; 31530031; 3192010300; 81471376); KQTD (2015033016104926); 973 Program (2014CB744600) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU1509392). X.Y.Y. collected and analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. X.P.F. participated in the interpretation of the data and revised the manuscript. F.T.Y. participated in the design of the study, the interpretation of the data and the revision of the manuscript. L.Y.J. participated in the revision of the manuscript. A.A. participated in the revision of the manuscript and provided language help. All the authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yuejia Luo or Tingyong Feng.

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Xin, Y., Xu, P., Aleman, A. et al. Intrinsic prefrontal organization underlies associations between achievement motivation and delay discounting. Brain Struct Funct (2020) doi:10.1007/s00429-019-01982-x

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  • Delay discounting
  • Achievement motivation
  • Resting-state functional connectivity