Neuroscience

Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior

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Science  23 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5508, pp. 1449-1451
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5508.1449e

One of the functions of the limbic system is the coordination of emotion and cognition. Anatomical and physiological studies have shown that three structures of the limbic system—the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens—are connected and speak to one another.

Jackson and Moghaddam have analyzed the interaction of these areas in detail. Electrical stimulation of the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala increased glutamate release in the prefrontal cortex and in the nucleus accumbens. In contrast, dopamine efflux was upregulated only in the prefrontal cortex and not in the nucleus accumbens. If, however, glutamatergic neurotransmission in the prefrontal cortex was blocked, there was a subsequent increase in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Dopaminergic neurotransmission in the nucleus accumbens is known to contribute to goal-directed behavior, and these results suggest that the prefrontal cortex modulates the consequences of amygdala activity by suppressing dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. — PRS

J. Neurosci.21, 676 (2001).

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