Genomic basis of delayed reward discounting Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Delayed reward discounting (DRD) is a behavioral economic measure of impulsivity, reflecting how rapidly a reward loses value based on its temporal distance. In humans, more impulsive DRD is associated with susceptibility to a number of psychiatric diseases (e.g., addiction, ADHD), health outcomes (e.g., obesity), and lifetime outcomes (e.g., educational attainment). Although the determinants of DRD are both genetic and environmental, this review focuses on its genetic basis. Both rodent studies using inbred strains and human twin studies indicate that DRD is moderately heritable, a conclusion that was further supported by a recent human genome-wide association study (GWAS) that used single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) to estimate heritability. The GWAS of DRD also identified genetic correlations with psychiatric diagnoses, health outcomes, and measures of cognitive performance. Future research priorities include rodent studies probing putative genetic mechanisms of DRD and human GWASs using larger samples and non-European cohorts. Continuing to characterize genomic influences on DRD has the potential to yield important biological insights with implications for a variety of medically and socially important outcomes.


  • Gray, Joshua C
  • Sanchez-Roige, Sandra
  • de Wit, Harriet
  • MacKillop, James
  • Palmer, Abraham A

publication date

  • May 2019