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Soutschek, Alexander ORCID: 0000-0001-8438-7721; Moisa, Marius ORCID: 0000-0001-9789-3383; Ruff, Christian C. ORCID: 0000-0002-3964-2364; Tobler, Philippe N. (June 2021): Frontopolar theta oscillations link metacognition with prospective decision making. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 12, No. 1, 3943: pp. 1-8
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Prospective decision making considers the future consequences of actions and therefore requires agents to represent their present subjective preferences reliably across time. Here, we test the link of frontopolar theta oscillations to both metacognitive ability and prospective choice behavior. We target these oscillations with transcranial alternating current stimulation while participants make decisions between smaller-sooner and larger-later monetary rewards and rate their choice confidence after each decision. Stimulation designed to enhance frontopolar theta oscillations increases metacognitive accuracy in reports of subjective uncertainty in intertemporal decisions. Moreover, the stimulation also enhances the willingness of participants to restrict their future access to short-term gratification by strengthening the awareness of potential preference reversals. Our results suggest a mechanistic link between frontopolar theta oscillations and metacognitive knowledge about the stability of subjective value representations, providing a potential explanation for why frontopolar cortex also shields prospective decision making against future temptation.