Neurochemical modulation of response inhibition and probabilistic learning in humans

Science. 2006 Feb 10;311(5762):861-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1121218.


Cognitive functions dependent on the prefrontal cortex, such as the ability to suppress behavior (response inhibition) and to learn from complex feedback (probabilistic learning), play critical roles in activities of daily life. To what extent do different neurochemical systems modulate these two cognitive functions? Here, using stop-signal and probabilistic learning tasks, we show a double dissociation for the involvement of noradrenaline and serotonin in human cognition. In healthy volunteers, inhibition of central noradrenaline reuptake improved response inhibition but had no effect on probabilistic learning, whereas inhibition of central serotonin reuptake impaired probabilistic learning with no effect on response inhibition.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Propylamines / pharmacology
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology


  • Propylamines
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Citalopram
  • Serotonin
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride
  • Norepinephrine