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Boosting Serotonin Increases Information Gathering by Reducing Subjective Cognitive Costs

Michely, Jochen; Martin, Ingrid M; Dolan, Raymond J; Hauser, Tobias U; (2023) Boosting Serotonin Increases Information Gathering by Reducing Subjective Cognitive Costs. The Journal of Neuroscience , 43 (32) pp. 5848-5855. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1416-22.2023. Green open access

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Abstract

Serotonin is implicated in the valuation of aversive costs, such as delay or physical effort. However, its role in governing sensitivity to cognitive effort, for example, deliberation costs during information gathering, is unclear. We show that treatment with a serotonergic antidepressant in healthy human individuals of either sex enhances a willingness to gather information when trying to maximize reward. Using computational modeling, we show this arises from a diminished sensitivity to subjective deliberation costs during the sampling process. This result is consistent with the notion that serotonin alleviates sensitivity to aversive costs in a domain-general fashion, with implications for its potential contribution to a positive impact on motivational deficits in psychiatric disorders.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Gathering information about the world is essential for successfully navigating it. However, sampling information is costly, and we need to balance between gathering too little and too much information. The neurocomputational mechanisms underlying this arbitration between a putative gain, such as reward, and the associated costs, such as allocation of cognitive resources, remain unclear. In this study, we show that week-long daily treatment with a serotonergic antidepressant enhances a willingness to gather information when trying to maximize reward. Computational modeling indicates this arises from a reduced perception of aversive costs, rendering information gathering less cognitively effortful. This finding points to a candidate mechanism by which serotonergic treatment might help alleviate motivational deficits in a range of mental illnesses.

Type: Article
Title: Boosting Serotonin Increases Information Gathering by Reducing Subjective Cognitive Costs
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1416-22.2023
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1416-22.2023
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2023 Michely et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Keywords: cognitive effort, computational modeling, information gathering, serotonin, Humans, Decision Making, Serotonin, Reward, Antidepressive Agents, Cognition, Motivation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10175745
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