Serotonin and dopamine: Unifying affective, activational, and decision functions

Roshan Cools, Kae Nakamura, Nathaniel D. Daw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Serotonin, like dopamine (DA), has long been implicated in adaptive behavior, including decision making and reinforcement learning. However, although the two neuromodulators are tightly related and have a similar degree of functional importance, compared with DA, we have a much less specific understanding about the mechanisms by which serotonin affects behavior. Here, we draw on recent work on computational models of dopaminergic function to suggest a framework by which many of the seemingly diverse functions associated with both DA and serotoninFcomprising both affective and activational ones, as well as a number of other functions not overtly related to eitherFcan be seen as consequences of a single root mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-113
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • activation
  • aversion
  • impulsivity
  • inhibition
  • punishment
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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