Recent findings suggest that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a region consistently associated with impulse control, is vulnerable to transient suppression of its activity and attendant functions by excessive stress and/or cognitive demand. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that a capacity-exceeding cognitive challenge induced decreased DLPFC activity and correlated increases in the preference for immediately available rewards. Consistent with growing evidence of a link between working memory capacity and delay discounting, the effect was inversely proportional to baseline performance on a working memory task. Subjects who performed well on the working memory task had unchanged, or even decreased, delay discounting rates, suggesting that working memory ability may protect cognitive control from cognitive challenge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience