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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(2):126-47. Epub 2005 Sep 23.

The limbic lobe and its output channels: implications for emotional functions and adaptive behavior.

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Department of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience, University of Virginia, Box 800212, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Current dissatisfaction with the limbic system concept reflects a desire to move beyond the limbic system in efforts to explain key facets of emotional functions and motivational behavior. This review promotes an anatomical viewpoint, which originated as a result of histotechnical advances. These improvements paved the way for anatomical discoveries, which in turn led to the concepts of the ventral striatopallidal system and extended amygdala. These two systems, together with the basal nucleus of Meynert and the septum-diagonal band system, serve as output channels for an expanded version of the classic limbic lobe of Broca, which contains all non-isocortical parts of the cortical mantle together with the large laterobasal-cortical amygdaloid complex. Thus defined, the limbic lobe contains all of the major cortical (e.g. orbitofrontal, cingulate and insular cortices in addition to the hippocampal formation) and cortical-like (laterobasal-cortical amygdala) structures known to be especially important for emotional and motivational functions. In their role as output channels for the limbic lobe, the basal forebrain functional-anatomical systems contribute to the establishment of a number of cortico-subcortical circuits, which provide an important part of the anatomical substrate for the elaboration of emotional functions and adaptive behavior.

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