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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995 Dec 15;769:1-13.

Anatomic and behavioral aspects of frontal-subcortical circuits.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine 90024, USA.


Frontal-subcortical circuits provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the anatomy, biochemistry, and pharmacology of behavior. The three principal behaviorally relevant circuits originate in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex, respectively. Circuit-specific marker behaviors associated with each circuit are executive dysfunction (dorsolateral prefrontal-subcortical circuit), disinhibition and OCD (orbitofrontal-subcortical circuit), and apathy (medial frontal-subcortical circuit). Environmental dependency is common to all prefrontal-subcortical syndromes and may reflect disruption of working memory. Depression, mania, and psychosis are mediated by structures involved in prefrontal-subcortical circuits and are circuit-related but not circuit-specific behaviors. The actions of PCP, LSD, serotonergic antidepressants, anxiolytics, sedative-hypnotics, antipsychotic agents, and ethanol may all be partially or primarily mediated through transmitter systems and receptor effects expressed through frontal-subcortical circuits.

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