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Neuroscience. 2014 Dec 12;282:23-48. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.04.010. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

An update on the connections of the ventral mesencephalic dopaminergic complex.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Science, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 S. Grand Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63104, United States. Electronic address: lyetniko@slu.edu.
2
Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Science, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 S. Grand Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63104, United States.
3
Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Science, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 S. Grand Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63104, United States. Electronic address: zahmds@slu.edu.

Abstract

This review covers the intrinsic organization and afferent and efferent connections of the midbrain dopaminergic complex, comprising the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area and retrorubral field, which house, respectively, the A9, A10 and A8 groups of nigrostriatal, mesolimbic and mesocortical dopaminergic neurons. In addition, A10dc (dorsal, caudal) and A10rv (rostroventral) extensions into, respectively, the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and supramammillary nucleus are discussed. Associated intrinsic and extrinsic connections of the midbrain dopaminergic complex that utilize gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate and neuropeptides and various co-expressed combinations of these compounds are considered in conjunction with the dopamine-containing systems. A framework is provided for understanding the organization of massive afferent systems descending and ascending to the midbrain dopaminergic complex from the telencephalon and brainstem, respectively. Within the context of this framework, the basal ganglia direct and indirect output pathways are treated in some detail. Findings from rodent brain are briefly compared with those from primates, including humans. Recent literature is emphasized, including traditional experimental neuroanatomical and modern gene transfer and optogenetic studies. An attempt was made to provide sufficient background and cite a representative sampling of earlier primary papers and reviews so that people new to the field may find this to be a relatively comprehensive treatment of the subject.

KEYWORDS:

compacta; periaqueductal gray; reticulata; retrorubral field; substantia nigra; ventral tegmental area

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