Adolescent impatience decreases with increased frontostriatal connectivity

Wouter Van Den Bos, Christian A. Rodriguez, Julie B. Schweitzer, Samuel M. McClure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a developmental period associated with an increase in impulsivity. Impulsivity is a multidimensional construct, and in this study we focus on one of the underlying components: impatience. Impatience can result from (i) disregard of future outcomes and/or (ii) oversensitivity to immediate rewards, but it is not known which of these evaluative processes underlie developmental changes. To distinguish between these two causes, we investigated developmental changes in the structural and functional connectivity of different frontostriatal tracts. We report that adolescents were more impatient on an intertemporal choice task and reported less future orientation, but not more present hedonism, than young adults. Developmental increases in structural connectivity strength in the right dorsolateral prefrontal tract were related to increased negative functional coupling with the striatum and an age-related decrease in discount rates. Our results suggest that mainly increased control, and the integration of future-oriented thought, drives the reduction in impatience across adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E3765-E3774
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 21 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Connectivity
  • DTI
  • Delay discounting
  • Impatience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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