The Role of Serotonin (5-HT) in Behavioral Control: Findings from Animal Research and Clinical Implications.
The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine both have a critical role in the underlying neurobiology of different behaviors. With focus on the interplay between dopamine and serotonin, it has been proposed that dopamine biases behavior towards habitual responding, and with serotonin offsetting this phenomenon and directing the balance toward more flexible, goal-directed responding. The present focus paper stands in close relationship to the publication by Worbe et al. (2015), which deals with the effects of acute tryptophan depletion, a neurodietary physiological method to decrease central nervous serotonin synthesis in humans for a short period of time, on the balance between hypothetical goal-directed and habitual systems. In that research, acute tryptophan depletion challenge administration and a following short-term reduction in central nervous serotonin synthesis were associated with a shift of behavioral performance towards habitual responding, providing further evidence that central nervous serotonin function modulates the balance between goal-directed and stimulus-response habitual systems of behavioral control. In the present focus paper, we discuss the findings by Worbe and colleagues in light of animal experiments as well as clinical implications and discuss potential future avenues for related research.
Sanchez, CL; Biskup, CS; Herpertz, S; Gaber, TJ; Kuhn, CM; Hood, SH; Zepf, FD
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