In modern society, the natural drive to behave impulsively in order to obtain rewards must often be curbed. A continued failure to do so is associated with a range of outcomes including drug abuse, pathological gambling, and obesity. Here, we used virtual reality technology to investigate whether spatial proximity to rewards has the power to exacerbate the drive to behave impulsively toward them. We embedded two behavioral tasks measuring distinct forms of impulsive behavior, impulsive action, and impulsive choice, within an environment rendered in virtual reality. Participants responded to three-dimensional cues representing food rewards located in either near or far space. Bayesian analyses revealed that participants were significantly less able to stop motor actions when rewarding cues were near compared with when they were far. Since factors normally associated with proximity were controlled for, these results suggest that proximity plays a distinctive role in driving impulsive actions for rewards.
- Biological Sciences
- Behavioral Neuroscience