Serotonin and dopamine: Unifying affective, activational, and decision functions

Roshan Cools, Kae Nakamura, Nathaniel D. Daw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

317 Scopus citations


Serotonin, like dopamine (DA), has long been implicated in adaptive behavior, including decision making and reinforcement learning. However, although the two neuromodulators are tightly related and have a similar degree of functional importance, compared with DA, we have a much less specific understanding about the mechanisms by which serotonin affects behavior. Here, we draw on recent work on computational models of dopaminergic function to suggest a framework by which many of the seemingly diverse functions associated with both DA and serotoninFcomprising both affective and activational ones, as well as a number of other functions not overtly related to eitherFcan be seen as consequences of a single root mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-113
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


  • activation
  • aversion
  • impulsivity
  • inhibition
  • punishment
  • reward


Dive into the research topics of 'Serotonin and dopamine: Unifying affective, activational, and decision functions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this