X. Cai, S. Kim, and D. Lee
Neuron, Volume 69, Issue 1, 170-182, 13 January 2011
In choosing between different rewards expected after unequal delays, humans and animals often prefer the smaller but more immediate reward, indicating that the subjective value or utility of reward is depreciated according to its delay. Here, we show that neurons in the primate caudate nucleus and ventral striatum modulate their activity according to temporally discounted values of rewards with a similar time course. However, neurons in the caudate nucleus encoded the difference in the temporally discounted values of the two alternative targets more reliably than neurons in the ventral striatum. In contrast, neurons in the ventral striatum largely encoded the sum of the temporally discounted values, and therefore, the overall goodness of available options. These results suggest a more pivotal role for the dorsal striatum in action selection during intertemporal choice.