Serotonin

Image of the dorsal raphe area of the brain.

Neurotransmitter switch-up helps fan extreme stress into full-blown fear

The flip occurs when certain neurons in the dorsal raphe start to express the chemical GABA instead of glutamate, a new study shows.

By Claudia López Lloreda
9 April 2024 | 5 min read
Research image comparing microglia with serotonin receptors to those without.
Circuits Microphone

Serotonin powers pruning of developing brain circuits in mice

Mice with microglia missing receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin since birth have too many synapses and show social difficulties in adulthood.

By Katie Moisse
28 June 2023 | 5 min listen
Mother and child rhesus macaque monkeys.

Serotonin initiates earliest social bonds

Mice and rats, for example, gravitate toward their mother’s bedding over bedding that is clean or smells of a different dam.

By Angie Voyles Askham
2 March 2023 | 5 min read
Scientist Gül Dölen smiles while looking towards the window in her lab's office.

In deep water with Gül Dölen

A researcher's existential crisis led to a scientific breakthrough.

By Peter Hess
3 August 2022 | 16 min listen
An illustration of a colorful, psychedelic landscape featuring two people standing on a hill speaking to one another

Tripping over the potential of psychedelics for autism

Drugs such as LSD act primarily on the serotonin system, which is implicated in autism — and some autistic people who experiment with psychoactive compounds report enhanced social connections, among other benefits. But researchers have more questions than answers.

By Alla Katsnelson
31 May 2022 | 10 min read
Spectrum Microphone

Serotonin shapes social memory signals

Social memory, which may be altered in autism, depends on serotonin-sensitive neurons that send signals from the medial septum to the hippocampus.

By Angie Voyles Askham
26 October 2021 | 5 min read
Illustration shows two octopi interacting on a yellow background.
Spectrum Microphone

Getting eight arms around autism

Octopuses can solve some of the same problems as people but do so in unusual ways.

By Sarah DeWeerdt
8 September 2021 | 4 min read

Drugs boost serotonin, socialization in multiple autism mouse models

The finding that MDMA and an experimental serotonin agonist increase sociability across six different model mice suggests that disparate autism-linked mutations converge on the same underlying pathways.

By Peter Hess
6 August 2021 | 4 min read
Illustration of transporter mice in brain maze
Spectrum Microphone

After 60 years, scientists are still trying to crack a mysterious serotonin-autism link

The high levels of serotonin seen in the blood of some autistic people have confounded scientists for more than half a century. Despite so little progress, some researchers refuse to give up.

By Grace Huckins
4 June 2021 | 9 min read
Spectrum Microphone

Sensor helps scientists spy on serotonin activity in mice in real time

A glowing protein tracks serotonin levels and location in the brains of living mice and could yield clues to the neurotransmitter’s role in autism.

By Peter Hess
5 February 2021 | 5 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

Illustration of a canyon landscape with an orange clock face in place of a sun.

How to teach this paper: ‘Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields,’ by Bittner and Milstein et al. (2017)

Katie Bittner, Aaron Milstein and their colleagues found that cellular learning can happen over longer timescales than Hebb’s rule predicts. How long should we wait to teach students about this phenomenon?

By Ashley Juavinett
24 June 2024 | 11 min read
Portrait of Kaspar Podgorski standing in his lab wearing a helmet with a climbing rope over his shoulder.

Climbing to new heights: Q&A with Kaspar Podgorski

The optical physiologist tracks neural computations inside the lab and scales sheer rock faces outside—even after a life-changing fall.

By Elissa Welle
21 June 2024 | 8 min read
Research illustration groups genes by their effects on brain cell types.

Giant analysis reveals how autism-linked genes affect brain cell types

Genes that predispose people to autism account for a large portion of the neuronal and glial cell changes seen in those with the condition.

By Charles Q. Choi
20 June 2024 | 5 min read