Dopamine and Serotonin Play Important Role in Human Perception and Cognition

At the Virginia Tech, a international team of researchers, in the first of its kind observational study in human brain, found that the brain chemicals: dopamine and serotonin, are found to play an integral part in perceptions and take respective action based on their perception.

Researchers demonstrated that the continuous and simultaneous measured activity of both dopamine and serotonin, their receptor as well as uptake act as the potential therapeutic target sites to elucidate numerous disorders including depression to Parkinson’s disease in the human brain. Research findings are published in the journal Neuron, opening up new ways for a deeper understanding of extensive role for these systems.

Dopamine and serotonin are brain chemicals that act as messengers measured during the awake decision-making. Serotonin is a tracks sensory uncertainty whereas dopamine and serotonin track sensory statistics along with tracking decision times. Furthermore, these brain chemicals are believed to be involved in neurochemicals that appear to integrate people’s perceptions. It indicates that from past data, brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin have far more expansive roles in the human nervous system.

Research study showed that neuromodulators, dopamine and serotonin are fund to be linked with the reward processing and show how bad or good people perceive an outcome to be taken after taking an action. Now, in this first study, researchers for the first time, they used an electrochemical method called “fast scan cyclic voltammetry”.

Source: Inner Mammal Institute

They used it small carbon fiber microelectrode that has low voltages to determine the real-time detection of dopamine and serotonin activity. Researchers recorded the fluctuations in dopamine and serotonin with the help of these electrodes in five patients that had brain stimulation electrode implantation surgery to treat tremors or Parkinson’s disease.

During the surgery, patients were awake, and they were playing computer games that were specifically designed to quantify aspects of thought and behavior while the measurements were taken.

Source: Inner Mammal Institute

Conclusively, in this study, for the first time, researchers measured activity in these systems, it helped in determining the perception and cognitive capacities. These brain chemicals are simultaneously acting, and they integrate the activity across different time and space scales than anyone expected. Moreover, there is a need to develop better understanding of dopamine and serotonin during perception and decision-making that could deliver important insight into psychiatric and neurological disorders.

“Our work suggests these neuromodulators — serotonin in particular — are playing a role in signaling how uncertain we are about the outside environment,” corresponding author Dan Bang, a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, and Steve Fleming, a Sir Henry Dale/Royal Society Fellow, both at the Wellcome Center for Human Neuroimaging at University College London.

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