Blocking Serotonin but Not Dopamine Reuptake Alters Neural Processing During Perceptual Decision Making

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Dopamine and serotonin have opponent interactions on aspects of impulsivity. Therefore we wanted to test the hypothesis that dopamine and serotonin would have opposing effects on speed–accuracy trade offs in a perceptual decision making task. Unlike other behavioral measures of impulsivity, perceptual decision making allows us to determine whether decreasing premature responses, often interpreted as decreased impulsivity, corresponds to increased behavioral performance. We administered GBR-12909 (a dopamine transporter blocker), escitalopram (a serotonin transporter blocker), or saline in separate sessions to 3 rhesus macaques. We found that animals had slower reaction times (RTs) on escitalopram than on GBR-12909 or saline. However, they were also least accurate on escitalopram. Animals were faster, although nonsignificantly, on GBR than saline and had equivalent accuracy. Administration of GBR-12909 did cause animals to be faster in error trials than correct trials. Therefore, from the point of view of RTs the animals were less impulsive on escitalopram. However, the decreased accuracy of the monkeys shows that they were not able to make use of their slower response times to make more accurate decisions. Therefore, impulsivity was reduced on escitalopram, but at the expense of a slower information-processing rate in the perceptual inference task.

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