Elevated outcome-anticipation and outcome-evaluation ERPs associated with a greater preference for larger-but-delayed rewards

Narun Pornpattananangkul*, Ajay Nadig, Storm Heidinger, Keegan Walden, Robin Nusslock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although waiting for a reward reduces or discounts its value, some people have a stronger tendency to wait for larger rewards and forgo smaller-but-immediate rewards. This ability to delay gratification is captured by individual differences in so-called intertemporal choices in which individuals are asked to choose between larger-but-delayed versus smaller-but-immediate rewards. The current study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine whether enhancement in two neurocognitive processes, outcome anticipation and outcome evaluation, modulate individual variability in intertemporal responses. After completing a behavioral intertemporal choice task, 34 participants performed an ERP gambling task. From this ERP task, we separately examined individual differences in outcome anticipation (stimulus-preceding negativity; SPN), early outcome valuation (feedback-related negativity; FRN), and late outcome evaluation (P3). We observed that both elevated outcome-anticipation (SPN) and late outcome-evaluation (P3) neural processes predicted a stronger preference toward larger-but-delayed rewards. No relationship was observed between intertemporal responses and early outcome evaluation (FRN), indicating that the relationship between outcome evaluation and intertemporal responses was specific to the late outcome-evaluation processing stream. Moreover, multiple regression analyses indicated that the SPN and P3 independently modulate individual differences in intertemporal responses, suggesting separate mechanisms underlie the relationship between these two neurocognitive processes and intertemporal responses. Accordingly, we identify two potential neurocognitive modulators of individual variability in intertemporal responses. We discuss the mechanisms underlying these modulators in terms of anticipation-related processing (SPN) and a saliency bias toward gain (compared to loss) outcomes (P3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-641
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Feedback-related negativity
  • Intertemporal responses
  • Outcome anticipation
  • Outcome evaluation
  • P3
  • Stimulus-preceding negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Elevated outcome-anticipation and outcome-evaluation ERPs associated with a greater preference for larger-but-delayed rewards'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this