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Changes in emotional processing have been shown following acute administration of a range of monoaminergic antidepressants, and may represent an important common neuropsychological mechanism underpinning their therapeutic effects. Tianeptine is an agent that challenges the traditional monoaminergic hypothesis of antidepressant action, though its exact mode of action remains controversial. Healthy volunteers were randomised to receive a single dose of tianeptine (12.5 mg) or placebo, and subsequently completed a battery of tasks measuring emotional processing, including facial expression recognition, emotional memory and attentional vigilance, as well as working and verbal memory. Tianeptine-treated subjects were less accurate at identifying facial expressions, though this was not valence specific. The tianeptine group also showed reduced positive affective memory and reduced attentional vigilance to positive stimuli. There were no effects on emotional categorization or non-emotional cognition. The negative biases in aspects of emotional processing observed following acute tianeptine administration are at variance with the positive biases generally seen after acute administration of conventional antidepressant drugs, despite tianeptine's putative antidepressant efficacy. This is an intriguing finding in the context of the lack of consensus regarding tianeptine's mechanism of action; however, it may be consistent with the reported ability of acute tianeptine to increase the re-uptake of serotonin.

Original publication




Journal article


J Psychopharmacol

Publication Date





582 - 590


Tianeptine, atypical antidepressant, emotional processing, experimental medicine, healthy volunteers, serotonin, Adolescent, Adult, Antidepressive Agents, Attention, Cognition, Emotions, Facial Expression, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Neuropsychological Tests, Recognition (Psychology), Reflex, Startle, Thiazepines, Young Adult