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Brain. 2013 Jun;136(Pt 6):1692-707. doi: 10.1093/brain/awt094. Epub 2013 May 6.

Dissecting the uncinate fasciculus: disorders, controversies and a hypothesis.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.

Abstract

The uncinate fasciculus is a bidirectional, long-range white matter tract that connects lateral orbitofrontal cortex and Brodmann area 10 with the anterior temporal lobes. Although abnormalities in the uncinate fasciculus have been associated with several psychiatric disorders and previous studies suggest it plays a putative role in episodic memory, language and social emotional processing, its exact function is not well understood. In this review we summarize what is currently known about the anatomy of the uncinate, we review its role in psychiatric and neurological illnesses, and we evaluate evidence related to its putative functions. We propose that an overarching role of the uncinate fasciculus is to allow temporal lobe-based mnemonic associations (e.g. an individual's name + face + voice) to modify behaviour through interactions with the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which provides valence-based biasing of decisions. The bidirectionality of the uncinate fasciculus information flow allows orbital frontal cortex-based reward and punishment history to rapidly modulate temporal lobe-based mnemonic representations. According to this view, disruption of the uncinate may cause problems in the expression of memory to guide decisions and in the acquisition of certain types of learning and memory. Moreover, uncinate perturbation should cause problems that extend beyond memory to include social-emotional problems owing to people and objects being stripped of personal value and emotional history and lacking in higher-level motivational value.

KEYWORDS:

anterior temporal lobe; diffusion tensor imaging; episodic memory; orbitofrontal cortex; schizophrenia

PMID:
23649697
PMCID:
PMC3673595
DOI:
10.1093/brain/awt094
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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