Studying the effects of dietary body weight-adjusted acute tryptophan depletion on punishment-related behavioral inhibition

Tilman J. Gaber, Vita L.S. Dingerkus, Molly J. Crockett, Sarah Bubenzer-Busch, Katrin Helmbold, Cristina L. Sánchez, Brigitte Dahmen, Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Florian D. Zepf

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8 Scopus citations


Background: Alterations in serotonergic (5-HT) neurotransmission are thought to play a decisive role in affective disorders and impulse control. Objective: This study aims to reproduce and extend previous findings on the effects of acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) and subsequently diminished central 5-HT synthesis in a reinforced categorization task using a refined body weight-adjusted depletion protocol. Design: Twenty-four young healthy adults (12 females, mean age [SD]=25.3 [2.1] years) were subjected to a double-blind within-subject crossover design. Each subject was administered both an ATD challenge and a balanced amino acid load (BAL) in two separate sessions in randomized order. Punishment-related behavioral inhibition was assessed using a forced choice go/no-go task that incorporated a variable payoff schedule. Results: Administration of ATD resulted in significant reductions in TRP measured in peripheral blood samples, indicating reductions of TRP influx across the blood-brain barrier and related brain 5-HT synthesis. Overall accuracy and response time performance were improved after ATD administration. The ability to adjust behavioral responses to aversive outcome magnitudes and behavioral adjustments following error contingent punishment remained intact after decreased brain 5-HT synthesis. A previously observed dissociation effect of ATD on punishment-induced inhibition was not observed. Conclusions: Our results suggest that neurodietary challenges with ATD Moja-De have no detrimental effects on task performance and punishment-related inhibition in healthy adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28443
JournalFood and Nutrition Research
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Acute tryptophan depletion
  • Decision-making
  • Executive functions
  • Gender
  • Serotonin


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