an emerging role for the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor in the modulation of emotion-based actions?
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in mediating important higher-order cognitive processes such as decision making, prompting thereby our actions. At the same time, PFC activation is strongly influenced by emotional reactions through its functional interaction with the amygdala and the striatal circuitry, areas involved in emotion and reward processing. The PFC, however, is able to modulate amygdala reactivity via a feedback loop to this area. A role for serotonin in adjusting for this circuitry of cognitive regulation of emotion has long been suggested based primarily on the positive pharmacological effect of elevating serotonin levels in anxiety regulation. Recent animal and human functional magnetic resonance studies have pointed to a specific involvement of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A serotonin receptor in the PFC feedback regulatory projection onto the amygdala. This receptor is highly expressed in the prefrontal cortex areas, playing an important role in modulating cortical activity and neural oscillations (brain waves). This makes it an interesting potential pharmacological target for the treatment of neuropsychiatric modes characterized by lack of inhibitory control of emotion-based actions, such as addiction and other impulse-related behaviors. In this review, we give an overview of the 5-HT2A receptor distribution (neuronal, intracellular, and anatomical) along with its functional and physiological effect on PFC activation, and how that relates to more recent findings of a regulatory effect of the PFC on the emotional control of our actions.
Molecular Neurobiology, 2013, Vol 48, Issue 3, p. 841-853