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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Dec 2;376(1):75-96.

Postnatal development of amygdaloid projections to the prefrontal cortex in the rat studied with retrograde and anterograde tracers.

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  • 1Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, The Netherlands.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala are involved in a number of common functions, such as emotional and social behavior, stress, visceral functions, ingestive behavior, self-stimulation, and certain aspects of learning and memory. The amygdala massively projects to the PFC and may play a role in the developmental plasticity reported for several of these functions. We have studied the normal postnatal development of the amygdaloid projections to the rat prefrontal cortex by using the retrogradely transported fluorescent dye fast blue and the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L). Shortly after birth some fibers were observed in the frontal pole of the rat brain. These fibers were scattered throughout all prefrontal cortical areas. The majority of the amygdaloid cells contributing to this pattern at that stage of development were located in the anterior and ventral basolateral nuclei, whereas a minority were located in the posterior basolateral nucleus. The transition from a diffuse fiber distribution to a characteristic bilaminar pattern occurred around postnatal day 12 in the lateral and rostral medial PFC. The PHA-L injections confirmed the existence of a topographical organization of the amygdalo-prefrontocortical projections. Our observations suggest that the development of amygdala innervation of the PFC parallels the emergence of PFC cytoarchitectural organization.

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