Serotonin selectively modulates reward value in human decision-making

Ben Seymour, Nathaniel D. Daw, Jonathan P. Roiser, Peter Dayan, Ray Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Establishing a function for the neuromodulator serotonin in human decision-making has proved remarkably difficult because if its complex role in reward and punishment processing. In a novel choice task where actions led concurrently and independently to the stochastic delivery of both money and pain, we studied the impact of decreased brain serotonin induced by acute dietary tryptophan depletion. Depletion selectively impaired both behavioral and neural representations of reward outcome value, and hence the effective exchange rate by which rewards and punishments were compared. This effect was computationally and anatomically distinct from a separate effect on increasing outcome-independent choice perseveration. Our results provide evidence for a surprising role for serotonin in reward processing, while illustrating its complex and multifarious effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5833-5842
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 25 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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