Time-Dependent Effect of Hydrocortisone Administration on Intertemporal Choice

22 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2013 Last revised: 17 Jul 2013

See all articles by Sandra Cornelisse

Sandra Cornelisse

Utrecht University - University Medical Center (Utrecht)

Vanessa van Ast

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Johannes Haushofer

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Maayke Seinstra

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf

Marian Joels

Utrecht University - University Medical Center (Utrecht)

Date Written: July 16, 2013

Abstract

Intertemporal choices, involving decisions which trade o ff outcomes at different points in time, are often made under stress. Stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, resulting in the release of corticosteroids. Recent studies provide evidence that corticosteroids can induce rapid non-genomic effects followed by slower genomic effects that are thought to modulate cognitive function in opposite and complementary ways. It remains unknown, however, how corticosteroids affect intertemporal choice. To target time-dependent effects of cortisol on intertemporal choice, we randomly assigned healthy men to one of three possible groups: 1) receiving 10 mg hydrocortisone 195 minutes (slow cort) or 2) 15 minutes (rapid cort), or 3) placebo at both times, before measuring intertemporal choice by offering subjects decisions between small rewards available sooner vs. large rewards available later, in a double-blind design. We demonstrate a time-dependent effect of cortisol administration on intertemporal choice: when tested 15 minutes after hydrocortisone administration, subjects showed a strongly increased preference for the small, soon reward over the larger, delayed reward. In contrast, this effect was not found when testing occurred 195 minutes after hydrocortisone administration. Together, these results suggest that the physiological effects of acute, but not delayed, stress may increase temporal discounting.

Suggested Citation

Cornelisse, Sandra and van Ast, Vanessa and Haushofer, Johannes and Seinstra, Maayke and Joels, Marian, Time-Dependent Effect of Hydrocortisone Administration on Intertemporal Choice (July 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2294189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2294189

Sandra Cornelisse

Utrecht University - University Medical Center (Utrecht) ( email )

Utrecht, 3584 CX
Netherlands

Vanessa Van Ast

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences ( email )

Kloveniersburgwal 48
Amsterdam, 1012 CX
Netherlands

Johannes Haushofer (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Maayke Seinstra

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 1
Duesseldorf, DE NRW 40225
Germany

Marian Joels

Utrecht University - University Medical Center (Utrecht) ( email )

Utrecht, 3584 CX
Netherlands

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
152
Abstract Views
1,061
rank
193,538
PlumX Metrics