Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Serotonergic projections to the orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortices differentially modulate waiting for future rewards

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Science Advances  27 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 48, eabc7246
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc7246


Optogenetic activation of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) enhances patience when waiting for future rewards, and this effect is maximized by both high probability and high timing uncertainty of reward. Here, we explored which serotonin projection areas contribute to these effects using optogenetic axon terminal stimulation. We found that serotonin stimulation in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is nearly as effective as that in the DRN for promoting waiting, while in the nucleus accumbens, it does not promote waiting. We also found that serotonin stimulation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) promotes waiting only when the timing of future rewards is uncertain. Our Bayesian decision model of waiting assumed that the OFC and mPFC calculate the posterior probability of reward delivery separately. These results suggest that serotonin in the mPFC affects evaluation of time committed, while serotonin in the OFC is responsible for overall valuation of delayed rewards.

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