Conclusions

This survey provides an integrative account of the contribution of serotonin, with emphasis on the 5-HT2C receptor subtype, to specific aspects of attentional processes and executive functioning as they emerge from experimental animal work. Four tasks allowing translational study have been used to that purpose:

1. The 5CSRTT, an analogue of the human CPT, is designed to measure several attentional operations with an emphasis on sustained attention or vigilance.

2. Attentional set shifting including reversal, intra- and intradimensional shifts, as the human WCST, tap attentional flexibility, that is the ability of humans and animals to develop and maintain higher-order rules, and shift attention according to changing reward contingencies.

3. The reinforced spatial alternation assesses working memory and other executive functions as well as persistent behavior.

4. Finally, the signal attenuation task addresses the issue of behavioral control by means of inhibition of activities that no longer serve environmental demands.

Taken together, the findings detailed above highlight the specificity of influences that the serotonin system has on overall prefrontal executive control, acting to promote distinct components of prefrontal processing in a context-dependent manner. Future directions must focus toward the definition of the specific aspects of attentional functions in which the serotonergic system is acting to influence pre-frontal processing.

Acknowledgements VB would like to thank the Bodossaki Foundation for funding.

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