Amygdaloid projections to ventromedial striatal subterritories in the primate

Neuroscience. 2002;110(2):257-75. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00546-2.


The ventral striatum is the part of the striatum associated with reward and goal-directed behaviors, which are mediated in part by inputs from the amygdala. The ventral striatum is divided into 'shell' and 'core' subterritories which have different connectional, histochemical and pharmacological properties. Behavioral studies also indicate that subterritories of the ventral striatum are differentially involved in specific goal-directed behaviors. The amygdala is a heterogeneous structure which has multiple nuclei involved in processing emotional information. While the existence of an amygdalostriatal pathway has long been established, the relationship between amygdaloid afferents and specific subterritories of the ventral striatum is not known. In this study we operationally defined the ventromedial striatum as the region receiving cortical inputs primarily from the orbital and medial prefrontal cortex. We placed retrograde tracer injections into subregions of the ventromedial striatum of macaques monkeys to determine the relative contribution of specific amygdaloid inputs to each region. Calbindin-D28k immunostaining was used to further define the shell subterritory of the ventromedial striatum. Based on these definitions, the amygdala innervates the entire ventromedial striatum, and has few to no inputs to the central striatum. The basal and accessory basal nuclei are the major source of input to the ventromedial striatum, innervating both the shell and ventromedial striatum outside the shell. However, a restricted portion of the dorsomedial shell receives few basal nucleus inputs. Afferent inputs from the basal nucleus subdivisions are arranged such that the parvicellular subdivision projects mainly to the ventral shell and core, and the magnocellular subdivision targets the ventral shell and ventromedial putamen. In contrast, the intermediate subdivision of the basal nucleus projects broadly across the ventromedial striatum avoiding only the dorsomedial shell. The shell has a specific set of connections derived from the medial part of the central nucleus and periamygdaloid cortex. Within the shell, the dorsomedial region is distinguished by additional inputs from the medial nucleus. The ventromedial caudate nucleus forms a unique transition zone with the shell, based on inputs from the periamygdaloid cortex. Together, these results indicate that subterritories of the ventromedial striatum are differentially modulated by amygdaloid nuclei which play roles in processing olfactory, visual/gustatory, multimodal sensory, and 'drive'-related stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / cytology*
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Calbindins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Macaca / anatomy & histology*
  • Macaca / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology*
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure*
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate


  • Calbindins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate