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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2003 Mar;41(2-3):153-202.

Structural characterization of a hypothalamic visceromotor pattern generator network.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A1, Canada.


A high resolution PHAL analysis of axonal connections suggests the existence of a visceromotor pattern generator network in the periventricular region of the rat hypothalamus (HVPG), and a preliminary account of its structure is provided here. Six nodes identified thus far include the dorsomedial nucleus and five small nuclei in the preoptic region (anteroventral and anterodorsal preoptic, parastrial, median preoptic, and anteroventral periventricular). Aside from its location between the neuroendocrine motor zone and the medial hypothalamic nuclei (behavior control column), three other primary features characterize the HVPG network. First, each HVPG nucleus generates a pattern of terminal fields that differentially targets a unique set of hypothalamic neuroendocrine motoneuron pools, and of preautonomic parts of the paraventricular nucleus. Second, the six HVPG nuclei are massively interconnected themselves. And third, the majority of projections from the HVPG nuclei remain within the medial half of the hypothalamus; additional outputs reach the septum, other parts of the diencephalon, and the brainstem central gray. Possible control of activity in the HVPG by neural inputs from the cerebral hemispheres, sensory systems, behavioral state-related cell groups, and the hypothalamic behavior or motivation control column is discussed, along with certain key functional data related to HVPG nuclei. Finally, the HVPG is incorporated into a working model of hypothalamic organization.

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