Synaptic Organization of Nucleus Accumbens (Ventral Striatum)

  • Gloria E. Meredith
  • Floris G. Wouterlood
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 39)


Experimental studies have produced many data over the past few years which implicate nucleus accumbens in the motivational and attentional processes that are important for goal-directed behaviors (Willner and Scheel-Krüger, 1990). Moreover, disorders, such as schizophrenia, which involve the disruption of these behaviors, are thought to be specifically linked to this nucleus (Matthysse, 1981). There is experimental evidence that supports a role for dopamine (DA) in these behaviors in nucleus accumbens but the importance of other transmitter systems such as those containing gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and acetylcholine, has also become apparent (Costa et al., 1978; Jones et al., 1981; Matthysse, 1981; Willner and Scheel-Krüger, 1990). However, our understanding of the differential role of each of these neurochemicals is limited, especially with respect to their interactions. A major reason for this limitation is the absence of relevant data on the synaptic relationships in accumbens circuitry. We know that nucleus accumbens receives extensive projections from limbic-related parts of the cortex, the amygdala, the midline thalamic nuclei, and the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and projects to major targets in the ventral pallidum and the midbrain i.e., the substantia nigra, VTA, and retrorubral field (see Groenewegen et al., 1990, for review) but we have yet to delineate the synaptic relationships underlying this flow of information into and through the nucleus.


Nucleus Accumbens Ventral Tegmental Area Ventral Striatum Cholinergic Cell Dendritic Shaft 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gloria E. Meredith
    • 1
  • Floris G. Wouterlood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Embryology Faculty of MedicineVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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