Available only for arXiv papers.
In everyday life, we encounter situations that require tradeoffs between potential rewards and associated costs, such as time and (physical) effort. The literature indicates a prominent role for dopamine in discounting of both delay and effort, with mixed findings for delay discounting in humans. Moreover, the reciprocal antagonistic interaction between dopaminergic and cholinergic transmission in the striatum suggests a potential opponent role of acetylcholine in these processes. We found opposing effects of dopamine D2 (haloperidol) and acetylcholine M1 receptor (biperiden) antagonism on effort discounting in healthy humans: haloperidol decreased, whereas biperiden increased the willingness to exert physical effort. In contrast, delay discounting was reduced under haloperidol, but not affected by biperiden. Together, our data point to a domain-general role of dopamine but a domain-specific role of acetylcholine in human cost-benefit decision making.