Carver, C. S., Johnson, S. L., & Joormann, J. (2009). Two-mode models of self-regulation as a tool for conceptualizing effects of the serotonergic system in normal behavior and diverse disorders. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 195-199.

Serotonergic function is important both in personality and in vulnerability to diverse psychological disorders ranging from impulsive aggression to depression. One way to understand this diversity is to view serotonergic function through the lens of theories positing two modes of self-regulation: a lower-order system that responds quickly to associative cues of the moment, and a higher-order system that responds reflectively and planfully. Low serotonergic function appears to enhance influence of the lower-order system. This often yields impulsive reactivity. Why, then, does low serotonergic function also relate to depression, which is characterized by lethargy and unresponsiveness? Manifestations of the lower system's dominance must reflect interactions with other factors. One hypothesis is that low serotonergic function plus high incentive sensitivity yields vulnerability to impulsive approach; low serotonergic function plus low incentive sensitivity yields vulnerability to depression. Conceptualizing serotonergic function this way helps integrate information pertaining to depression and impulsive disorders into a coherent picture.

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