A stochastic approach to serotonergic fibers in mental disorders

Biochimie. 2019 Jun;161:15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2018.07.014. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Virtually all brain circuits are physically embedded in a three-dimensional matrix of fibers that release 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin). The density of this matrix varies across brain regions and cortical laminae, and it is altered in some mental disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. We investigate how the regional structure of the serotonergic matrix depends on the stochastic behavior of individual serotonergic fibers and introduce a new framework for the quantitative analysis of this behavior. In particular, we show that a step-wise random walk, based on the von Mises-Fisher probability distribution, can provide a realistic and mathematically concise description of these fibers. We also consider other stochastic models, including the fractional Brownian motion. The proposed approach seeks to advance the current understanding of the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) and may also support future theory-guided therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Density; Fibers; Major depressive disorder; Serotonin (5-HT); Stochastic.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / metabolism
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / pathology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology*
  • Serotonergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Serotonergic Neurons / pathology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Serotonin