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Neuroscience. 1994 Aug;61(4):851-65.

Input from the amygdala to the rat nucleus accumbens: its relationship with tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and identified neurons.

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University Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, U.K.


Both tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibres from the mesolimbic dopamine system and amygdala projection fibres from the basolateral nucleus are known to terminate heavily in the nucleus accumbens. Caudal amygdala fibres travelling dorsally via the stria terminalis project densely to the nucleus accumbens shell, especially in the dopamine rich septal hook. The amygdala has been associated with the recognition of emotionally relevant stimuli while the mesolimbic dopamine system is implicated with reward mechanisms. There is behavioural and electrophysiological evidence that the amygdala input to the nucleus accumbens is modulated by the mesolimbic dopamine input, but it is not known how these pathways interact anatomically within the nucleus accumbens. Using a variety of neuroanatomical techniques including anterograde and retrograde tracing, immunocytochemistry and intracellular filling, we have demonstrated convergence of these inputs on to medium-sized spiny neurons. The terminals of the basolateral amygdala projection make asymmetrical synapses predominantly on the heads of spines which also receive on their necks or adjacent dendrites, symmetrical synaptic input from the mesolimbic dopamine system. Some of these neurons have also been identified as projection neurons, possibly to the ventral pallidum. We have shown a synaptic level how dopamine is positioned to modulate excitatory limbic input in the nucleus accumbens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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