I'm currently a PhD candidate in Brain and Cognitive Sciences program. I am interested in how people make decisions, especially intertemporal decisions. I've been working on a series of fMRI experiments looking at how brain responds to rewards received at different points in time (Luo et al., 2009; Luo et al., 2011). I observed that individuals exhibited an incentive bias towards immediate rewards relative to preference-matched delayed rewards, evidenced by faster reaction time and greater brain activity in reward-related regions during anticipation of immediate vs. delayed rewards. Moreover, this incentive bias towards immediate rewards is more pronounced among cigarette smokers.
Along a similar line, I looked at brain responses when research participants were making choices between smaller-sooner (SS) rewards vs. larger-later (LL) rewards. I observed an association between LL choices and prefrontal activity, and this association was moderated by individual differences in delay discounting and variability in choices (Luo et al., 2011 In Press).
Currently, I am working on my dissertation project looking at how trait and state motivation states affect intertemporal choice. I am very excited to find out whether individuals’ preferences can be moderated by motivational state changes.