Escitalopram is one of the most well-tolerated selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and has long-term clinical use for the treatment of depression. However, 40% to 60% of his patients taking SSRIs experience “slowdown,” according to researchers who published the results of a recent study. neuropsychopharmacology.
Researchers have found that SSRIs like escitalopram affect reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning is a behavioral process that allows us to learn from our environment. The impact on learning can explain why about 50% of users become emotionally dull.
“It takes away some of the emotional pain that people experiencing depression feel, but unfortunately it also seems to take away some of the fun. We find that this is due to decreased sensitivity to rewards that provide important feedback,” said Barbara Sahakian, senior author and Claire Hall Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. . Recent press releases.
But researchers wanted to understand the long-term effects on cognitive health. The study enrolled 66 volunteers. They assessed the effects of SSRIs by having participants undergo a battery of cognitive tests at least three weeks later.
Approximately half of the participants (32) received escitalopram and the control group received placebo (34). Twenty-one days later, participants completed a self-report questionnaire assessing cognitive functions such as learning, inhibition, executive function, reinforcing behavior, and decision-making.
The results suggest that escitalopram affected participants’ sensitivity to reward. This means that participants did not rely as much on feedback (in the form of rewards) to guide decision-making as did the control-her group. However, the researchers found that the SSRIs in the review did not significantly reduce ‘cold’ cognitive skills, such as attention and memory, or emotional cognition (hot) compared to individuals not using SSRIs. bottom.
Researchers tested cognitive function with a “probabilistic reversal test” in which participants were presented with two stimuli, A or B. If participants chose option A, there was a higher probability of reward at 4/5 chance compared to 1/5 chance. Additionally, participants had to observe and learn these rules on their own. It was also responsible for adapting when reward probabilities changed.
“Our findings provide important evidence for the role of serotonin in reinforcement learning. We used neuroimaging data to understand how escitalopram affects the brain during reward learning. We continue this research in a study examining
University of Cambridge. Scientists describe the emotional ‘dulling’ caused by common antidepressants. January 22, 2023. Accessed January 23, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/976960