Serotonin in Animal Cognition and Behavior
IJMS. 2020-02-28; 21(5): 1649
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Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is acknowledged as a major neuromodulator of nervous systems in both invertebrates and vertebrates. It has been proposed for several decades that it impacts animal cognition and behavior. In spite of a completely distinct organization of the 5-HT systems across the animal kingdom, several lines of evidence suggest that the influences of 5-HT on behavior and cognition are evolutionary conserved. In this review, we have selected some behaviors classically evoked when addressing the roles of 5-HT on nervous system functions. In particular, we focus on the motor activity, arousal, sleep and circadian rhythm, feeding, social interactions and aggressiveness, anxiety, mood, learning and memory, or impulsive/compulsive dimension and behavioral flexibility. The roles of 5-HT, illustrated in both invertebrates and vertebrates, show that it is more able to potentiate or mitigate the neuronal responses necessary for the fine-tuning of most behaviors, rather than to trigger or halt a specific behavior. 5-HT is, therefore, the prototypical neuromodulator fundamentally involved in the adaptation of all organisms across the animal kingdom.