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Serotonin Is The Driver Of Futile Patience And Delayed Gratification

haidut

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One of the first studies that I came across more than 15 years ago when I first started dabbling in biochemistry was on the roles of serotonin and dopamine in "pathological curiosity" seen in some children, which was thought to often lead to "oppositional-defiance disorder" later on in their lives. The study described elevated dopamine levels in these little "pathologically" curious children and discussed how SSRI therapy quickly brings them under control. The study cited abundance of well-documented reports of their parents gushing with joy about the remarkable patience and obedience that their (formerly) "pathologically" curious children seemed to develop after being put on an SSRI. The study did not go into the details of how the SSRI drugs achieved those effects but I have always suspected that serotonin is involved in the much-lauded ability for delayed gratification.
Delayed gratification - Wikipedia

This study below adds evidence in favor of the serotonin-patience hypothesis. More importantly, elevated serotonin apparently increases patience more in uncertain circumstances, which is ideal for the purpose of public policy with it always changing course. Even "better", in times of uncertainty, serotonin increased the (false) belief of mice that they were waiting for a positive outcome (reward/food) when in reality the likelihood of such positive outcome was low. So, in summary, I think it is fair to say that elevated serotonin gives organisms delusionally positive expectations about the future when in fact the likelihood of such outcome is low. The conspirator in me finds it hard to ignore the remarkable parallels between what the government wants from its subjects (i.e. patience and obedience) and what the SSRI drugs offer.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04496-y
Wait For It: Serotonin and Confidence at the Root of Patience in New Study

"... “Serotonin has had a lot of study in pharmacology, and serotonergic drugs are commonly prescribed,” said Katsuhiko Miyazaki, “but the role that serotonin has over behavior isn’t clear”. The team investigated for a causal relationship between serotonin levels and behavior in mice. The mice were trained to perform a task to obtain a food reward: place their nose into a small hole and wait – dubbed a “nose poke”. After a pre-set duration, the reward was delivered. In a previous study, the team used a method called optogenetics, a method which allows scientist to use light to stimulate specific neurons with precise timing. These neurons are genetically modified to a produce a light-sensitive protein that are then stimulated by shining light along a fiber optic implanted in the brain. In the study, serotonin-producing neurons were optogenetically stimulated in a part of the brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), which output widely to the forebrain. The result was that increasing the activity of serotonin neurons in the DRN drastically increased the amount of time mice were willing to wait for a food reward."

"...They also found that serotonin stimulation made the mice to wait longer when the timing of a reward was harder to predict. In a test with a 75% chance of getting a reward, in some sessions mice were rewarded after precise periods, while in other sessions they were rewarded after randomized timing. The extended waiting times by serotonin neuron stimulation were more prominent when the reward timing was randomized. (Fig. 2)."

"...The model also reproduced the result of timing uncertainty. When the mice were uncertain of the timing of when a reward would be delivered, it became difficult for them to judge whether they were waiting in a reward trial or no-reward trial. Serotonin stimulation increased the mice’s belief that they were in a reward trial, delaying their judgement further as reward timing was less clear."
 
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vulture

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One of the first studies that I came across more than 15 years ago when I first started dabbling in biochemistry was on the roles of serotonin and dopamine in "pathological curiosity" seen in some children, which was thought to often lead to "oppositional-defiance disorder" later on in their lives. The study described the elevated dopamine levels in these little pathological curious children and discussed how SSRI therapy quickly brings them under control, with their parents gushing with joy about the remarkable patience and obedience that their pathologically curious children seemed to develop after being put on an SSRI. The study did not go into the details of how the SSRI drugs achieved those effects but I have always suspected that serotonin is involved in much-lauded ability for delayed gratification.
This study below adds evidence in favor of the serotonin-patience hypothesis. More importantly, elevated serotonin apparently increases patience more in uncertain circumstances, which is ideal for the purpose of public policy with it always changing course. Even "better", in times of uncertainty, serotonin increased the (false) belief of mice that they were waiting for a positive outcome (reward/food) when in reality the likelihood of such positive outcome was low. So, in summary, I think it is fair to say that elevated serotonin gives organisms delusionally positive expectations about the future when in fact the likelihood of such outcome is low. The conspirator in me finds it hard to ignore the remarkable parallels between what the government wants from its subjects (patience and obedience) and what the SSRI drugs offer.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04496-y
Wait For It: Serotonin and Confidence at the Root of Patience in New Study

"... “Serotonin has had a lot of study in pharmacology, and serotonergic drugs are commonly prescribed,” said Katsuhiko Miyazaki, “but the role that serotonin has over behavior isn’t clear”. The team investigated for a causal relationship between serotonin levels and behavior in mice. The mice were trained to perform a task to obtain a food reward: place their nose into a small hole and wait – dubbed a “nose poke”. After a pre-set duration, the reward was delivered. In a previous study, the team used a method called optogenetics, a method which allows scientist to use light to stimulate specific neurons with precise timing. These neurons are genetically modified to a produce a light-sensitive protein that are then stimulated by shining light along a fiber optic implanted in the brain. In the study, serotonin-producing neurons were optogenetically stimulated in a part of the brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), which output widely to the forebrain. The result was that increasing the activity of serotonin neurons in the DRN drastically increased the amount of time mice were willing to wait for a food reward."

"...They also found that serotonin stimulation made the mice to wait longer when the timing of a reward was harder to predict. In a test with a 75% chance of getting a reward, in some sessions mice were rewarded after precise periods, while in other sessions they were rewarded after randomized timing. The extended waiting times by serotonin neuron stimulation were more prominent when the reward timing was randomized. (Fig. 2)."

"...The model also reproduced the result of timing uncertainty. When the mice were uncertain of the timing of when a reward would be delivered, it became difficult for them to judge whether they were waiting in a reward trial or no-reward trial. Serotonin stimulation increased the mice’s belief that they were in a reward trial, delaying their judgement further as reward timing was less clear."
I've being using cypro and now cabergoline.
With cypro and caber I've noticed one thing in common (in a few days in my log I might have more experience to assure it). With both of them on low dosages I experience slight headache. But with cabergoline I'm feeling a LOT of hunger, extreme almost
 

Nebula

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I've noticed a weird effect sometimes when taking BCAA's or cypro that I can become impatient towards people in a negative way over small things. I think this is due to dopamine also being low, because I've also noticed the opposite when I suspect my dopamine was at good levels (feeling untroubled by inconvenience, seeing obstacles as opportunities for fun). In the low serotonin/high dopamine state small things feel gratifying and pleasurable, but I still feel the ability to plan and be motivated for working towards longer term goals. So I think there's probably more variables at play at least in humans, maybe androgen/estrogen ratios.
 

Dobbler

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delusionally positive expectations about the future i take that any day over drowning in my own sorrow about the pain im gonna feel now and in the future tbh. But for real thou, im not gonna take SSRIs.
 

Antoine

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So they have more hope about outcomes they cannot predict (nor can anyone else) and that's a bad thing? It had no effect when chances of reward were low, meaning that they aren't really delusional.
 

Sheik

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delusionally positive expectations about the future i take that any day over drowning in my own sorrow about the pain im gonna feel now and in the future tbh. But for real thou, im not gonna take SSRIs.
The alternative to positive expectation is not necessarily negative expectation. There's also focusing on what's in front of you and enjoying life in the moment.

Think of all the prisoners and drug addicts you hear about. They often become very religious, focused on the promise of a sublime afterlife, "the promised land". (Not to knock religion.) If you are suffering for a long time you hold out hope for the future.

A person with "delusionally positive expectations" may not have such a fulfilling life.
 

haidut

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I've noticed a weird effect sometimes when taking BCAA's or cypro that I can become impatient towards people in a negative way over small things. I think this is due to dopamine also being low, because I've also noticed the opposite when I suspect my dopamine was at good levels (feeling untroubled by inconvenience, seeing obstacles as opportunities for fun). In the low serotonin/high dopamine state small things feel gratifying and pleasurable, but I still feel the ability to plan and be motivated for working towards longer term goals. So I think there's probably more variables at play at least in humans, maybe androgen/estrogen ratios.

There is a difference between irritability and impatience. The former is not a sign of low serotonin, but probably the opposite. I think the impatience the study looked at was simply the ability to make a consistent effort without solid reason for doing so.
 

haidut

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So they have more hope about outcomes they cannot predict (nor can anyone else) and that's a bad thing?

Yes, that is a bad thing. There is no good reason to maintain a (costly) effort when there is uncertainty about its payoff or when the probability of payoff is low. Look at the portion of the quote above in red - serotonin increased the belief of mice that they were in a reward event when in fact they were not. That's the definition of delusion!
As you saw, there is good news in the sense that when the probability of payoff was below 50% then serotonin did not make them more patient. However, I would like to see more studies on this as I suspect that even higher serotonin levels can overcome this "defense" mechanism and make the rats endure even very low probabilities. I have seen this happen first hand in people who take high dose SSRI. It makes them inhumanly stubborn and willing to chase a wild goose without even a remotely plausible indication that anything will materialize out of it. I know Western cultures and the Puritan ethic praise this sort of behavior but from a health point of view there is nothing good about it.
 
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haidut

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Antoine

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Yes, that is a bad thing. There is no good reason to maintain a (costly) effort when there is uncertainty about its payoff or when the probability of payoff is low. Look at the portion of the quote above in red - serotonin increased the belief of mice that they were in a reward event when in fact they were not. That's the definition of delusion!
As you saw, there is good news in the sense that when the probability of payoff was below 50% then serotonin did not make them more patient. However, I would like to see more studies on this as I suspect that even higher serotonin levels can overcome this "defense" mechanism and make the rats endure even very low probabilities. I have seen this happen first hand in people who take high dose SSRI. It makes them inhumanly stubborn and willing to chase a wild goose without even a remotely plausible indication that anything will materialize out of it. I know Western cultures and the Puritan ethic praise this sort of behavior but from a health point of view there is nothing good about it.

It wasn't a costly effort, it was 'nose-poking'. Delusion is when something is wrong and it is demonstrable (you can give good arguments to why it is wrong, at least) yet the patient thinks it is true. This is not the case in this study, where the rats don't know if something is gonna happen, so nobody can know whether or not it is worth their time. When the chances of getting a reward were decent they were more patient. When the chances of getting a reward were not all that great (they tested 25% and 50% probability, so it's not 'below 50%') they saw no increased waiting times. This could be interpreted as the mice having more patience when the chances for them to get a reward are at the higher end. They may be more positive, or more stubborn, or more hopeful, but you can't really say they are wrong.

The type of delayed gratification seen in the Marshmallow test (where a promise is made) correlates with intelligence and positive outcomes. Indigenous people can score higher on that than people from the Western world.
 

Collden

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It has been my experience as well in observing the people in my life that those with high dopamine/thyroid levels tend to more to live for moment-to-moment pleasures and are definitely more susceptible to the excesses of addiction and abuse of various kinds, whereas those in my life who are a more hypothyroid/low-energy personality are more restrained, live less for the moment and more for the future, and less likely to show addictive behaviours. It seems to be a fairly established fact that highly driven and energetic individuals are more likely to have problems like sexual promiscuity or substance abuse, it is the double-edged sword of dopamine that has been well pointed out by Fred Previc.

Not to say that having strong thyroid function and high dopamine necessarily leads to problematic behaviours, but I've observed that people who carry a great deal of emotional tension, due to traumatic childhoods or whatever, which some might argue should lead to chronic stress and hypothyroidism, actually such people often rather seem to become hyperdopaminergic and hyperthyroid as a defense mechanism, maybe due to the well-established ability of dopamine to suppress emotions.
 
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lollipop

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It has been my experience as well in observing the people in my life that those with high dopamine/thyroid levels tend to more to live for moment-to-moment pleasures and are definitely more susceptible to the excesses of addiction and abuse of various kinds, whereas those in my life who are a more hypothyroid/low-energy personality are more restrained, live less for the moment and more for the future, and less likely to show addictive behaviours. It seems to be a fairly established fact that highly driven and energetic individuals are more likely to have problems like sexual promiscuity or substance abuse, it is the double-edged sword of dopamine that has been well pointed out by Fred Previc.

Not to say that having strong thyroid function and high dopamine necessarily leads to problematic behaviours, but I've observed that people who carry a great deal of emotional tension, due to traumatic childhoods or whatever, which some might argue should lead to chronic stress and hypothyroidism, actually such people often rather seem to become hyperdopaminergic and hyperthyroid as a defense mechanism, maybe due to the well-established ability of dopamine to suppress emotions.
Interesting post. Actually the subject is fascinating.
 

jandrade1997

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Seems like this suggests that lowering my serotonin would make me an even bigger procrastinator than I already am, which would be disastrous.
 
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Seems like religion and the belief of a reward in the afterlife is a direct result of serotonin.

But whats the opposite? Nihilistic Hedonism?
 

Andman

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It has been my experience as well in observing the people in my life that those with high dopamine/thyroid levels tend to more to live for moment-to-moment pleasures and are definitely more susceptible to the excesses of addiction and abuse of various kinds, whereas those in my life who are a more hypothyroid/low-energy personality are more restrained, live less for the moment and more for the future, and less likely to show addictive behaviours. It seems to be a fairly established fact that highly driven and energetic individuals are more likely to have problems like sexual promiscuity or substance abuse, it is the double-edged sword of dopamine that has been well pointed out by Fred Previc.

Not to say that having strong thyroid function and high dopamine necessarily leads to problematic behaviours, but I've observed that people who carry a great deal of emotional tension, due to traumatic childhoods or whatever, which some might argue should lead to chronic stress and hypothyroidism, actually such people often rather seem to become hyperdopaminergic and hyperthyroid as a defense mechanism, maybe due to the well-established ability of dopamine to suppress emotions.

id rather speculate that its the stress cascade at its best. „hyperdopaminergic, hyperthyroid“ is probably just cort/est/adr and pretty far from what peat would consider healthy
 

yerrag

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Would this mean then that serotonin makes people rely more on hope, on chance outcomes, than on making outcomes more certain by their own actions? On a medical context, would high-serotonin people be relying more on miracles through prayer than on looking for possible solutions that may have been overlooked by their doctors? Would high serotonin people tend to rely on macro forces beyond their control to determine their wealth, thru stock and property appreciation, on a passive level, than to create wealth through their own active efforts? Would high-serotonin people tend to bet against all odds with a high payout than to bet when odds are on their side, with a lower payout?

Are high-serotonin people going to the ones who will hold on to their position, staying the course, in the midst of adversity or outcomes that in the present show them to be in the short end of the stick? When they turn out to be right in the end, won't they be the ones called visionary, heroic, having great insight, and showing great leadership? Of course, if they're wrong and have to fold, they will be called delusional.
 

Collden

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id rather speculate that its the stress cascade at its best. „hyperdopaminergic, hyperthyroid“ is probably just cort/est/adr and pretty far from what peat would consider healthy
I dont think the "stress" axis and dopamine/thyroid are necessarily antagonistic, thyroid increases the sensitivity to catecholamines and activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Dopamine is in itself basically a stress hormone, closely related to the metabolism of noradrenaline/adrenaline, and acts similar to other stress hormones to mobilise energy and get us "ready for action". There is a thin line between "stress" and "stimulation", which Peat considers essential for thyroid function. Take a look at buddhist monks to see the effects of a lifestyle completely devoid of stress and stimulation on the thyroid and body.
 
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