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J Comp Neurol. 2001 Jul 16;436(1):111-25.

Ventral mesopontine projections of the caudomedial shell of the nucleus accumbens and extended amygdala in the rat: double dissociation by organization and development.

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1
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri 63104, USA. zahmds@slu.edu

Abstract

The shell of the nucleus accumbens and central division of the extended amygdala are telencephalic structures that influence motor activity and lately have been regarded by some as components of a single functional-anatomic continuum. Each has a highly differentiated internal organization and output system and distinct pharmacologic responses however, and it is thus likely that each subserves distinct contributions to behavior. In this investigation, nucleus accumbens and extended amygdala outputs were compared by using retrograde tracing in adult and postnatal rats. Fluoro-Gold, when injected into the ventral tegmental area, produced substantial retrograde labeling in the adult nucleus accumbens shell, but only trivial amounts in the central division of the extended amygdala. Injection sites in the lateral mesopontine tegmentum produced robust labeling in the central extended amygdala but little in the nucleus accumbens. The projections of extended amygdala were substantially developed by postnatal day 1, whereas those of the caudomedial shell of the nucleus accumbens only reached the ventral tegmental area by approximately postnatal day 6. Few neurons projecting from the caudomedial shell of the accumbens to the ventral tegmental area were observed even at postnatal day 21. In consideration of the reported importance of the nucleus accumbens, particularly the caudomedial shell, in neural processing related to reward and motivation and the central nervous system response to antipsychotic drugs, it may be important to determine whether processes occurring during the protracted postnatal development of the caudomedial shell are vulnerable to destructive circumstances, such as drug intoxication, maternal separation, or social isolation.

PMID:
11413550
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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