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Serotonin, Learning Speed Are Linked, Study Finds

Serotonin, Learning Speed Are Linked, Study Finds

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By    |   Thursday, 28 June 2018 07:05 AM

Serotonin and learning speed have been linked in a new study that suggests the neurotransmitter that controls mood and regulates other functions can also boost learning as well, Medical News Today reported.

Researchers from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal, and University College London in the United Kingdom said in the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, that in a mouse model serotonin appeared to play a role in how quickly the animals adapted their behavior to a given situation.

Researchers exposed mice to a learning task of finding water in order to study the animals' learning processes and speed.

"The study found that serotonin enhances the speed of learning," said Zach Mainen, one of the study's leaders, in a release from the Champalimaud Centre. "When serotonin neurons were activated artificially, using light, it made mice quicker to adapt their behavior in a situation that required such flexibility.”

"That is, they gave more weight to new information and therefore changed their minds more rapidly when these neurons were active."

Serotonin has previously been related boosting brain plasticity, and this study adds weight to that idea, thus departing from the common conception of serotonin as a mood-enhancer.

"Our results suggest that serotonin boosts [brain] plasticity by influencing the rate of learning," the study’s authors concluded. "This resonates, for instance, with the fact that treatment with an (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can be more effective when combined with so-called cognitive behavioral therapy, which encourages the breaking of habits in patients."

The authors believe their research also explains why serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a drug type that boosts serotonin levels and is used to treat depression, are most effective when used in combination with cognitive behavior therapy, Medical News Today noted.

While the inhibitors tackle depression by addressing the brain's chemical imbalances, the therapy changes behavioral responses.

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Serotonin and learning speed have been linked in a new study that suggests the neurotransmitter that controls mood and regulates other functions can also boost learning as well.
serotonin, learning, speed, link
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2018-05-28
Thursday, 28 June 2018 07:05 AM
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