The 5-HT2A serotonin receptor in executive function: Implications for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases

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Abstract

Executive function entails the interplay of a group of cognitive processes enabling the individual to anticipate consequences, attain self-control, and undertake appropriate goal-directed behaviour. Serotonin signalling at serotonin 2A receptors (5-HT2AR) has important effects on these behavioural and cognitive pathways, with the prefrontal cortex (PFC) as the central actor. Indeed, the 5-HT2ARs are highly expressed in PFC, where they modulate cortical activity and local network oscillations (brain waves). Numerous psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases result in disrupted executive function. Animal and human studies have linked these disorders with alterations in the 5-HT2AR system, making this an important pharmacological target for the treatment of disorders with impaired cognitive function. This review aims to describe the current state of knowledge on the role of 5-HT2AR signalling in components of executive function, and how 5-HT2AR systems may relate to executive dysfunctions occurring in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. We hope thereby to provide insight into how pharmacotherapy targeting the 5-HT2AR may ameliorate (or exacerbate) aspects of these disorders.

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