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Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Apr;11(4):1119-26.

Direct comparison of projections from the central amygdaloid region and nucleus accumbens shell.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63104, USA.


Certain neurochemical and connectional characteristics common to extended amygdala and the nucleus accumbens shell suggest that the two represent a single functional-anatomical continuum. If this is so, it follows that the outputs of the two structures should be substantially similar. To address this, projections from the caudomedial shell and central nucleus of the amygdala, a key extended amygdala structure, were demonstrated in Sprague-Dawley rats with different anterograde axonal tracers processed separately to exhibit distinguishable brown and blue-black precipitates. The caudomedial shell projection is strong in the ventral pallidum and along the medial forebrain bundle through the lateral preopticohypothalamic continuum into the ventral tegmental area, distal to which it thins abruptly. The central nucleus projects strongly to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the sublenticular extended amygdala, but substantially to the lateral hypothalamus only at levels behind the rostral part of the entopeduncular nucleus. Innervation of the ventral tegmental area by the central amygdala is minimal, but the lateral one-third of the substantia nigra, pars compacta and an adjacent lateral part of the retrorubral field receive substantial central amygdala input. Central amygdaloid projections are robust in caudal brainstem sites, such as the reticular formation, parabrachial nucleus, nucleus of the solitary tract and dorsal vagal complex, all of which receive little input from the accumbens. The substantial differences in the output systems of the caudomedial shell of accumbens and central amygdala suggest that the two represent distinct functional-anatomical systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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