Document Type


Publication Date








First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



© 2018, The Author(s). Rationale: Dysregulation of the serotonin (5-HT) system is a pathophysiological component in major depressive disorder (MDD), a condition closely associated with abnormal emotional responsivity to positive and negative feedback. However, the precise mechanism through which 5-HT tone biases feedback responsivity remains unclear. 5-HT2C receptors (5-HT2CRs) are closely linked with aspects of depressive symptomatology, including abnormalities in reinforcement processes and response to stress. Thus, we aimed to determine the impact of 5-HT2CR function on response to feedback in biased reinforcement learning. Methods: We used two touchscreen assays designed to assess the impact of positive and negative feedback on probabilistic reinforcement in mice, including a novel valence-probe visual discrimination (VPVD) and a probabilistic reversal learning procedure (PRL). Systemic administration of a 5-HT2CR agonist and antagonist resulted in selective changes in the balance of feedback sensitivity bias on these tasks. Results: Specifically, on VPVD, SB 242084, the 5-HT2CR antagonist, impaired acquisition of a discrimination dependent on appropriate integration of positive and negative feedback. On PRL, SB 242084 at 1 mg/kg resulted in changes in behaviour consistent with reduced sensitivity to positive feedback. In contrast, WAY 163909, the 5-HT2CR agonist, resulted in changes associated with increased sensitivity to positive feedback and decreased sensitivity to negative feedback. Conclusions: These results suggest that 5-HT2CRs tightly regulate feedback sensitivity bias in mice with consequent effects on learning and cognitive flexibility and specify a framework for the influence of 5-HT2CRs on sensitivity to reinforcement.


Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Phillips, B.U., Dewan, S., Nilsson, S.R.O. et al. Selective effects of 5-HT2C receptor modulation on performance of a novel valence-probe visual discrimination task and probabilistic reversal learning in mice. Psychopharmacology 235, 2101–2111 (2018).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Find in your library