Moro, A. S., Saccenti, D., Ferro, M., Scaini, S., Malgaroli, A., & Lamanna, J. (2023). Neural Correlates of Delay Discounting in the Light of Brain Imaging and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation: What We Know and What Is Missed. – Brain Sciences, 13(3), 403.


In decision making, the subjective value of a reward declines with the delay to its receipt, describing a hyperbolic function. Although this phenomenon, referred to as delay discounting (DD), has been extensively characterized and reported in many animal species, still, little is known about the neuronal processes that support it. Here, after drawing a comprehensive portrait, we consider the latest neuroimaging and lesion studies, the outcomes of which often appear contradictory among comparable experimental settings. In the second part of the manuscript, we focus on a more recent and effective route of investigation: non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS). We provide a comprehensive review of the available studies that applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to affect subjects’ performance in DD tasks. The aim of our survey is not only to highlight the superiority of NIBS in investigating DD, but also to suggest targets for future experimental studies, since the regions considered in these studies represent only a fraction of the possible ones. In particular, we argue that, based on the available neurophysiological evidence from lesion and brain imaging studies, a very promising and underrepresented region for future neuromodulation studies investigating DD is the orbitofrontal cortex.