Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Depue & Collins: Neurobiology of personality

Dopamine and serotonin: Integrating current affective engagement with longer-term goals

Leonard D. Katz a1
a1 Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, E39-245, Cambridge, MA 02139


Interpreting VTA dopamine activity as a facilitator of affective engagement fits Depue & Collins's agency dimension of extraverted personality and also Watson's and Tellegen's (1985) engagement dimension of state mood. Serotonin, by turning down the gain on dopaminergic affective engagement, would permit already prepotent responses or habits to prevail against the behavior-switching incentive-simulation-driven temptations of the moment facilitated by fickle VTA DA. Intelligent switching between openly responsive affective engagement and constraint by long-term plans, goals, or values presumably involves environment-sensitive balancing of these neuromodulators, such as socially dominant primates may show.