Intensity dependence of auditory evoked potentials as an indicator of central serotonergic neurotransmission: a new hypothesis

Biol Psychiatry. 1993 Feb 1;33(3):173-87. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(93)90137-3.


Because of the increasing importance of the central serotonergic neurotransmission for pathogenetic concepts and its role as a target of pharmacotherapeutic interventions in psychiatry, reliable indicators of this system are needed. It is proposed that the stimulus intensity dependence of auditory evoked N1/P2-component, which is probably modulated by cortical serotonergic innervation, may be a useful and noninvasive indicator of behaviorally relevant aspects of serotonergic activity. Converging evidence from our own studies as well as from the literature suggests that a pronounced intensity dependence of auditory evoked N1/P2-component reflects low central serotonergic neurotransmission. Recent findings concerning general functional aspects of the brain serotonin system reveal that this system is well qualified for adjusting individual levels of sensory processing ("set the tone"), especially in the primary auditory cortex in which the N1/P2-component is mainly generated. Dipole source analysis represents an important methodological advance in this context because it allows the separation of N1/P2-subcomponents generated in the primary auditory cortex from those generated in secondary auditory areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Loudness Perception / physiology*
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Serotonin