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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;25(6):472-80. doi: 10.1002/hup.1141.

Serotonergic modulation of response inhibition and re-engagement? Results of a study in healthy human volunteers.

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Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse, Germany.



Cognitive functions dependent on the prefrontal cortex, such as the ability to suppress behavior (response inhibition) and initiate a new one (response re-engagement) is important in the activities of daily life. Central serotonin (5-HT) function is thought to be a critical component of these cognitive functions. In recent studies, 5-HT failed to affect stop-signal reaction time (SSRT), a fundamental process in behavioral inhibition. We were interested if response inhibition and re-engagement are influenced through central 5-HT activity as mediated via the 5-HT transporter.


Here, using a stop-change task, we investigated the effects of acute and repeated treatment with 10 mg escitalopram, a selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitor, in 36 healthy human volunteers on response inhibition and re-engagement in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with cross-over design.


Results do not show an influence of escitalopram on response inhibition or response re-engagement as we did not find differences in SSRT or change reaction time (CRT).


These findings support the results of previous studies suggesting that 5-HT is not critical in inhibition of already initiated responses and response re-engagement. We hypothesize that results are due to different forms of behavioral inhibition and 5-HT may critical to other forms.

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