Integration and segregation of limbic cortico-striatal loops at the thalamic level: an experimental tracing study in rats

J Chem Neuroanat. 1999 May;16(3):167-85. doi: 10.1016/s0891-0618(99)00009-5.


The frontal lobe and the basal ganglia are involved in a number of parallel, functionally segregated circuits. Information is thought to pass from distinct parts of the (pre)frontal cortex, via the striatum, the pallidum/substantia nigra and the thalamus, back to the premotor/prefrontal cortices. Currently, different views exist as to whether these circuits are to be considered as open or closed loops, as well as to the degree of interconnection between different circuits. The main goal of the present study is to answer some of these questions for the limbic corticostriatal circuits. The latter circuits involve the nucleus accumbens, the ventral pallidum/dorsomedial substantia nigra pars reticulata, the medial parts of the mediodorsal and ventromedial thalamic nuclei and the prefrontal cortex. Within the nucleus accumbens, a core and a shell region are recognized on the basis of anatomical and functional criteria. The shell of the nucleus accumbens projects predominantly to the mediodorsal, the midline and the reticular thalamic nuclei via the ventral pallidum, whereas the core reaches primarily the medial part of the ventromedial thalamic nucleus, the intralaminar and mediodorsal thalamic nuclei via a relay in the dorsomedial substantia nigra pars reticulata. By means of double labeling experiments with injections of anterograde tracers in both the ventral pallidum and the substantia nigra of rats, we were able to demonstrate that circuits involving the shell and the core of the nucleus accumbens remain largely segregated at the level of the thalamus. Only restricted areas of overlap of ventral pallidal and reticular nigral projections occur in the mediodorsal and ventromedial thalamic nuclei, which allows for a limited degree of integration, at the thalamic level, of information passing through the two circuits.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Dextrans
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Globus Pallidus / anatomy & histology
  • Globus Pallidus / metabolism
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Limbic System / anatomy & histology*
  • Limbic System / metabolism
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Neostriatum / anatomy & histology*
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Neostriatum / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Substance P / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / anatomy & histology
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / physiology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Dextrans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • leukoagglutinins, plants
  • Substance P
  • Biotin
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase