motivational control


Motivational Biases of Behaviour: Role of Serotonin versus Dopamine

When we see a threat, we tend to hold back. When we see a reward, we have a strong urge to approach. Reward or punishment cues bias action, eliciting appetitive activation and/or aversive inhibition, respectively. Such motivational biases of behavior are often considered to reflect cue-based, ‘Pavlovian’ effects, which arise as hardwired responses to learned stimulus-associated outcome predictions. We study the role of catecholamine as well as serotonin transmission in these motivational action biases, which we have shown can in fact arise also from biases in instrumental learning (Swart et al., 2019). Specifically we have tested the motivational opponency hypothesis, according to which serotonin and dopamine play key roles in linking so-called Pavlovian aversive and appetitive predictions with behavioral inhibition and activation, respectively. Moreover, we study the degree to which such motivational biases can transfer to more cognitive learning systems (Piray et al. 2019).

Relevant publications

Piray P, Ly V, Roelofs K, Cools R*, Toni I* (2019). Emotionally aversive cues suppress neural systems underlying optimal learning in socially anxious individuals. J Neurosci 39 (8):1445-1456

Swart J, Froböse M, Cook J, Geurts D, Frank MJ, Cools R* and den Ouden H* (2017). Catecholaminergic challenge uncovers distinct Pavlovian and instrumental mechanisms of motivated (in)action. Elife May 15, 6

Geurts D, Huys Q, den Ouden H, Cools R (2013). Serotonin and aversive Pavlovian control of instrumental behavior in humans. J Neurosci 33(48):18932-9

Cools R, Nakamura K, Daw ND (2011): Serotonin and Dopamine: Unifying Affective, Activational, and Decision Functions. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews 36(1):98-113

Crockett M and Cools R (2015). Serotonin and aversive processing in affective and social decision-making. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 5:64-70

den Ouden HEM, Swart JC, Schmidt K, Fekkes D, Geurts DEM, Cools R (2015).

Acute serotonin depletion releases motivated inhibition of response vigour. Psychopharm 232(7):1303-12

Chiu Y-C, Cools R, Aron A (2014). Opposing Effects of Appetitive and Aversive Cues on Go/ Nogo Behavior and Motor Excitability. J Cogn Neurosci 26(8):1851-60

Ly V, Bergman TO, Gladwin T, Volman I, Usberti N, Cools R*, and Roelofs K* (2016). Reduced affective biasing of instrumental action with tDCS over the prefrontal cortex. Brain Stimulation 9(3):380-7

Ly V, Huys Q, Stins J, Roelofs K, Cools R (2014). Individual differences in bodily freezing predict emotional biases in decision making. Front Behav Neurosci 8:237

Geurts DEM, Huys QJM, den Ouden HEM, Cools R (2013). Aversive Pavlovian control of instrumental behaviour in humans. J Cogn Neurosci 25(9):1428-41 [5.7]

Crockett MJ, Clark L, Roiser JP, Robinson OJ, Cools R, Chase HW, Ouden Hd, Apergis-Schoute A, Campbell-Meiklejohn D, Seymour B, Sahakian BJ, Rogers RD, Robbins TW (2012). Converging evidence for central 5-HT effects in acute tryptophan depletion. Mol Psychiatry 17(2):121-3

Robinson OJ, Cools R, Sahakian BJ (2012). Tryptophan depletion disinhibits punishment but not reward prediction: implications for resilience. Psychopharm 219(2):599-605

Cools R, Nakamura K, Daw ND (2011): Serotonin and Dopamine: Unifying Affective, Activational, and Decision Functions. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews 36(1):98-113

Huys QJ, Cools R, Gölzer M, Friedel E, Heinz A, Dolan RJ, Dayan P (2011). Disentangling the roles of approach, activation and valence in instrumental and pavlovian responding. PLoS Comput Biol 7(4):e1002028

Robinson OJ, Cools R, Crockett MJ, Sahakian BJ (2010). Mood state moderates the role of serotonin in cognitive biases. J Psychopharm 24(4):573-83

Cools R, Robinson OJ, Sahakian BJ (2008). Acute tryptophan depletion in healthy volunteers enhances punishment prediction but does not affect reward prediction. Neuropsychopharmacology 33(9):2291-9

Cools R, Roberts AC, Robbins TW (2008). Serotoninergic regulation of emotional and behavioural control processes. Trends Cogn Sci 12(1):31-40

Cools R, Calder AJ, Lawrence AD, Clark L, Bullmore E, Robbins TW (2005). Individual differences in threat sensitivity predict serotonergic modulation of amygdala response to fearful faces. Psychopharmacology 180: 670-679

Cools R, Blackwell A, Clark L, Menzies L, Cox S, Robbins TW (2005). Tryptophan depletion disrupts the motivational guidance of goal-directed behavior as a function of trait impulsivity. Neuropsychopharmacology 30 (7): 1362-1373

Clark L, Roiser JP, Cools R, Rubinsztein DC, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW (2005). Stop signal response inhibition is not modulated by tryptophan depletion or the serotonin transporter polymorphism in healthy volunteers: implications for the 5-HT theory of impulsivity. Psychopharm 182(4):570-8

Evers EA, Cools R, Clark L, van der Veen FM, Jolles J, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW (2005). Serotonergic modulation of prefrontal cortex during negative feedback in probabilistic reversal learning. Neuropsychopharm 30(6):1138-47

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