The Biochemical Pharmacology of the Limbic System: Neuroleptic Drugs

  • K. G. Lloyd


Although neuroanatomical considerations of limbic circuits are approaching their centennial celebration (dated from Broca, 1878) and have been considered as the neuroanatomical substrate of emotion for 40 years (Papez, 1937), the neurochemical anatomy of these brain areas has been seriously considered for little more than a decade. This initial lag period was due mainly to inadequate methods for the assay of putative neurotransmitter substances in small discrete brain regions. However, commencing in the early 1960’s with the fluorescent histochemical techniques for elucidation of neurons containing catecholamines or serotonin and continuing with the sensitive radioenzymatic assays for dopamine (DA), norepinephrine (NE), acetylcholine (ACh), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and their related enzymes, receptors and metabolites, the knowledge of the neurochemistry of limbic regions has literally exploded. Pharmacologica considerations of limbic functions by definition include study of any drug which either alters emotionality, or which is used in clinical states where an emotional abnormality exists. To briefly categorize (in a non-inclusive manner) these drugs include hallucinogens, euphoriants, antidepressants, neuroleptics (antipsychotics) and tranquilizers. It would be the scope of a major text to review the biochemical pharmacology of these classes of drugs. In order to present a cohesive and to some extent thorough examination, the author has chosen to review the biochemical pharmacology of the neuroleptics, a class of drugs which are clinically effective against the schizophrenias and other major psychoses (e.g. manic-depressive psychosis).


Adenylate Cyclase Brain Research Limbic System Limbic Region Corpus Striatum 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

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  • K. G. Lloyd

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