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Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 1997 Feb;72(1):61-95.

Serotonergic modulation of behaviour: a phylogenetic overview.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Serotonergic neurons are present in all phyla that possess nervous systems. In most of these phyla, serotonin modulates important behaviours, including feeding, sexual and aggressive behaviour. Serotonin exerts its effects by acting in three basic modes: as a classical neurotransmitter, as a neuromodulator, or as a neurohormone. In a number of invertebrate species, the neural circuitry underlying the effects of serotonin has been well characterized, whereas in vertebrates, the mechanisms by which serotonin affects behaviour are currently less fully understood. The following review examines the role played by serotonin in the generation and modulation of behaviour in successively more complex species, ranging from coelenterates to humans.

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