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Science. 2008 Jun 27;320(5884):1739. doi: 10.1126/science.1155577. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Serotonin modulates behavioral reactions to unfairness.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.


Serotonin (5-HT) has long been implicated in social behavior and impulsivity, but the mechanisms through which it modulates self-control remain unclear. We observed the effects of manipulating 5-HT function on behavior in the ultimatum game, where players must decide whether to accept or reject fair or unfair monetary offers from another player. Participants with depleted 5-HT levels rejected a greater proportion of unfair offers, but not fair offers, without showing changes in mood, fairness judgment, basic reward processing, or response inhibition. Our results suggest that 5-HT plays a critical role in regulating emotion during social decision-making.

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