Recent experiments have shown that optogenetic activation of serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) in mice enhances patience in waiting for future rewards. Here, we show that serotonin effect in promoting waiting is maximized by both high probability and high timing uncertainty of reward. Optogenetic activation of serotonergic neurons prolongs waiting time in no-reward trials in a task with 75% food reward probability, but not with 50 or 25% reward probabilities. Serotonin effect in promoting waiting increases when the timing of reward presentation becomes unpredictable. To coherently explain the experimental data, we propose a Bayesian decision model of waiting that assumes that serotonin neuron activation increases the prior probability or subjective confidence of reward delivery. The present data and modeling point to the possibility of a generalized role of serotonin in resolving trade-offs, not only between immediate and delayed rewards, but also between sensory evidence and subjective confidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas