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J Affect Disord. 2007 Nov;103(1-3):43-62. Epub 2007 Mar 23.

The effects of serotonin manipulations on emotional information processing and mood.

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Leiden University, Institute for Psychological Research, Clinical Psychology Unit, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden, The Netherlands.



Serotonin is implicated in both mood and cognition. It has recently been shown that antidepressant treatment has immediate effects on emotional information processing, which is much faster than any clinically significant effects. This review aims to investigate whether the effects on emotional information processing are reliable, and whether these effects are related to eventual clinical outcome. Treatment-efficiency may be greatly improved if early changes in emotional information processing are found to predict clinical outcome following antidepressant treatment.


Review of studies investigating the short-term effects of serotonin manipulations (including medication) on the processing of emotional information, using PubMed and PsycInfo databases.


Twenty-five studies were identified. Serotonin manipulations were found to affect attentional bias, facial emotion recognition, emotional memory, dysfunctional attitudes and decision making. The sequential link between changes in emotional processing and mood remains to be further investigated.


The number of studies on serotonin manipulations and emotional information processing in currently depressed subjects is small. No studies yet have directly tested the link between emotional information processing and clinical outcome during the course of antidepressant treatment.


Serotonin function is related to several aspects of emotional information processing, but it is unknown whether these changes predict or have any relationship with clinical outcome. Suggestions for future research are provided.

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