Seymour et al. find further behavioral and neural evidence that serotonin modulates (is necessary for) distinct behavioral and anatomical components of decision-making. Most surprising is their observation of a strongly positive dependence of reward outcome value on serotonin signaling, with corresponding cue-value-related activity in vmPFC and prediction-error-related activity in dorsolateral putamen (for errors). This value-dependent effect was behaviorally and anatomically distinct from an effect of serotonin on behavioral flexibility, as indicated by choice perseveration. Here is their abstract:
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.