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Serotonin is implicated in many aspects of behavioral regulation. Theoretical attempts to unify the multiple roles assigned to serotonin proposed that it regulates the impact of costs, such as delay or punishment, on action selection. Here, we show that serotonin also regulates other types of action costs such as effort. We compared behavioral performance in 58 healthy humans treated during 8 weeks with either placebo or the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram. The task involved trading handgrip force production against monetary benefits. Participants in the escitalopram group produced more effort and thereby achieved a higher payoff. Crucially, our computational analysis showed that this effect was underpinned by a specific reduction of effort cost, and not by any change in the weight of monetary incentives. This specific computational effect sheds new light on the physiological role of serotonin in behavioral regulation and on the clinical effect of drugs for depression.ISRCTN75872983.

Original publication

DOI

10.7554/elife.17282

Type

Journal article

Journal

eLife

Publication Date

08/11/2016

Volume

5

Addresses

Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, NeuroSpin Center, INSERM U992, Institut d'Imagerie Biomédicale, Direction de la recherche fondamentale, Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

Keywords

Humans, Serotonin, Citalopram, Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors, Placebos, Hand Strength, Behavior, Reward, Adult, Female, Male, Young Adult, Serotonin Receptor Agonists, Healthy Volunteers