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Altruistic decision making focus of NIDA's Addiction Science Award
Date:5/13/2011

A study of what influences decision making on issues whose consequences will only be felt by future generations won first prize in the annual Addiction Science Awards at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) -- the world's largest science competition for high school students. The Intel ISEF Addiction Science Awards were presented at an awards ceremony Thursday night in Los Angeles. The awards were presented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA's mission.

First place distinction went to Sarah Susie Pak, a 17-year-old senior at Roslyn High School in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for her project Would You Do It for the Kids? Factors Involved in the Prediction of Intergenerational Preferences. The project was based on well-known phenomenon, called delayed discounting, in which people tend to discount the value of a reward that will be received at a later time vs. an immediate, but smaller, reward. Delayed discounting is abnormally high in people who are addicted to drugs and contributes to their impulsive risk taking behaviors, especially drug use. Pak's project identified generosity and patience as two key interacting factors that increase the likelihood that a person will make altruistic decisions that will primarily help future generations. The senior plans to attend Princeton in the fall.

"Our first place winner took a fresh look at delayed discounting at the social and generational level," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Her studies illuminate aspects of neuroeconomics that are relevant not only to drug abuse and addiction, but that could have far reaching social, ethical, and public health policy implications."

Second place distinction in the Addiction Science Awards went to Darby Kathryn Schumacher, a 15-year-old freshman at the Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tenn. Her project, Making H
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Contact: Stephanie Older
media@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
Source:Eurekalert

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