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Neuroscience. 2003;119(1):19-31.

Individual nucleus accumbens-projection neurons receive both basolateral amygdala and ventral subicular afferents in rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3QT, UK.


The nucleus accumbens is regarded as the limbic-motor interface, in view of its limbic afferent and somatomotor and autonomic efferent connections. Within the accumbens, there appear to be specific areas in which limbic afferent fibres, derived from the hippocampus and the amygdala, overlap. These afferent inputs have been suggested to converge monosynaptically on cells within the accumbens and are hypothesized to play a role in paradigms such as conditioned place preference. Convergence between inputs from basolateral amygdala and hippocampus can be demonstrated with electrophysiological recording methods, but these do not conclusively preclude polysynaptic mechanisms. We examined the synaptic input to the projection neurons of the accumbens, the medium-sized densely spiny neurons. We labelled the projection neurons with a small injection of biotinylated dextran amine into the accumbens, and the afferents from the basolateral amygdala and ventral subiculum of the hippocampus with injections of biotinylated dextran amine and Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin respectively, and revealed the anterogradely labelled fibres with different chromogens. The labelled accumbens-projection neurons were studied with correlated light and electron microscopy for identified monosynaptic inputs. With this technique we have demonstrated anatomically that monosynaptic convergence between the ventral subicular region of the hippocampus and the basolateral region of the amygdala occurs at the level of the proximal as well as distal dendrites. Finally, we suggest that these anatomical arrangements may represent the framework for the integrative role that has been assigned to the accumbens.

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