Frontal-subcortical neuronal circuits and clinical neuropsychiatry: an update

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Aug;53(2):647-54. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00428-2.


Frontal-subcortical circuits form the principal network, which mediate motor activity and behavior in humans. Five parallel frontal-subcortical circuits link the specific areas of the frontal cortex to the striatum, basal ganglia and thalamus. These frontal-subcortical circuits originate from the supplementary motor area, frontal eye field, dorsolateral prefrontal region, lateral orbitofrontal region and anterior cingulate portion of the frontal cortex. The open afferent and efferent connections to the frontal-subcortical circuits mediate coordination between functionally similar areas of the brain. Specific chemoarchitecture and multiple neurotransmitter interactions modulate the functional activity of each circuit. Dorsolateral prefrontal circuit lesions cause executive dysfunction, orbitofrontal circuit lesions lead to personality changes characterized by disinhibition and anterior cingulate circuit lesions present with apathy. The neurobiological correlates of neuropsychiatric disorders including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and substance abuse, imply involvement of frontal-subcortical circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurochemistry