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Psychol Med. 2011 Feb;41(2):419-29. doi: 10.1017/S0033291710000486. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Serotonin and dopamine transporters in relation to neuropsychological functioning, personality traits and mood in young adult healthy subjects.

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Department of Medical Psychology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter systems are implicated in the regulation of mood, cognition and personality traits and their dysfunction is thought to be implicated in diverse psychopathologies. However, in healthy subjects the relationship between the serotonin and dopamine systems and neuropsychological functioning and personality traits is not clearly established. In the present study we investigated whether neuropsychological functioning, personality traits and mood states of a group of healthy subjects are associated with in vivo measures of serotonin transporters (SERTs) and dopamine transporters (DATs).


A total of 188 young healthy subjects underwent neuropsychological and subjective measurements of memory function, depression and impulsivity. Participants' SERT and DAT availability in predefined regions of interest were assessed using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with the radiotracer [123I]β-CIT. Individual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans served as anatomic reference.


We did not find any significant association between SERT or DAT availability and neuropsychological test performance or self-reported impulsivity and mood. There were no significant sex differences in SERT or DAT availability, but men performed significantly better on some tests of visuospatial functioning than women.


Robust negative findings for striatal DAT availability seriously question earlier findings of positive associations between DAT availability and cognitive functions in healthy subjects. Our results also suggest that subcortical SERT availability is not associated with the neuropsychological functions and personality traits assessed. In summary, the present study suggests that neuropsychological and personality measurements in young healthy people are not associated with subcortical SERT or striatal DAT availabilities in the brain.

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