Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My Psychology text book says Serotonin causes "Sleep, arousal levels and emotion"

Does this really mean that when you are being aroused, Serotonin is released, which in turn makes you sleepy? If so, what evolutionary benefit would that have??

share|improve this question
    
This can be answered by reading the Wikipedia article on serotonin, which has a nice list of functions. –  Armatus Mar 4 '13 at 18:09
1  
I've always wondered whether heightened serotonin was responsible for socially accepted phenomena such as post-coital tiredness and "morning glory"... –  Polynomial Mar 4 '13 at 23:36
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

There are many signalling molecules used by the human body that have a different effect depending on the cell type. My guess is that serotonin causes these different effects in different neurons. So, while serotonin is capable of promoting feelings of arousal and sleepiness, the two do not necessarily go together. If you look into this more deeply you will probably find that the different effects you describe are happening in different cells and at different times. Also, rather than arousal causing serotonin to be released, I think you will find that serotonin release causes arousal.

I would also like to touch on your question about evolutionary benefit. Although the action of serotonin is almost certainly not to induce arousal followed by sleepiness, I would like to point out that evolution does not care about you after you have reproduced. As long as an individual reproduces, evolution is "happy". For example, you think falling asleep after sex is counterproductive on the evolutionary scale? What about Mantises where the female will sometimes eat the male during or immediately after copulation. Falling asleep seems like a pretty small thing compared to that (source):

Although the praying mantis is known for its cannibalistic mating process in actuality it only occurs 5-31% of the time. Especially in laboratory conditions of bright lights and confinement, the female is more likely to eat the male as means of survival. "In nature, mating usually takes place under cover, so rather than leaning over the tank studying their every move, we left them alone and videotaped what happened. We were amazed at what we saw. Out of thirty matings, we didn't record one instance of cannibalism, and instead we saw an elaborate courtship display, with both sexes performing a ritual dance, stroking each other with their antennae before finally mating. It really was a lovely display". (7) There is one species, however, the Mantis religiosa, in which it is necessary that the head be removed for the mating to take effect properly. (5) Sexual cannibalism occurs most often if the female is hungry. But eating the head does causes the body to ejaculate faster. (3)

Anything that makes an individual less likely to reproduce will be selected against. Things that happen after reproduction do not affect the survival of the species and will not be subject to selective pressures.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.