Acute tryptophan depletion selectively attenuates cardiac slowing in an Eriksen flanker task

Freddy Veen, EAT Evers, Gabry Mies, EFPM Vuurman, J Jolles

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In the present study, the effects of transiently lowering central serotonin levels by means of acute tryptophan depletion on measures of cognitive flexibility were examined. Flexible behaviour was measured in an Eriksen flanker task, and cardiac and electro-cortical responses to errors and congruent and incongruent stimuli were measured. The depletion was successful in lowering tryptophan levels and, as expected, it did not affect subjective mood. Depletion did not affect performance and electro-cortical measures and selectively affected cardiac measures. Depletion attenuated cardiac slowing to incongruent flanker stimuli but did not affect cardiac responses to congruent stimuli and errors. The selective effect on cardiac responses as compared to performance and electro-cortical measures was in accordance with earlier findings, as well as the attenuation of cardiac slowing. The selective effect on the cardiac response to incongruent stimuli was unexpected. Detailed analyses showed a close connection to the earlier reported attenuation of the cardiac response to negative feedback, and the effect is explained in terms of reduced anticipation of the feedback stimulus due to enhanced punishment prediction.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1455-1463
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Research programs

  • EMC OR-01-58-01

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