Excessive discounting of delayed reinforcers as a trans-disease process: Update on the state of the science.


Addiction Recovery Research Center, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, VA, USA; Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors, Virginia Tech Carilion Research, VA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Delay discounting, or the process by which reinforcers lose value with delay to their receipt, has been identified as a trans-disease process underlying addiction, other disorders, and maladaptive health behaviors. Delay discounting has been identified as an endophenotype for multiple psychiatric disorders including substance use disorder, ADHD, and major depressive disorder, with this endophenotype being linked to deficits in dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission. In addition, neuroanatomical and neurophysiological deficits in areas of the executive and impulsive systems have been associated with both steeper discounting and substance use disorders. Delay discounting constitutes a novel target for interventions to change health behaviors. A new theory, termed reinforcer pathology, has been developed uniting these findings and setting the stage for future research.

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