The claustrum and the endopiriform nucleus contribute to the spread of epileptiform activity from the amygdala to other brain areas. Data of the distribution of pathways underlying the information flow between these regions are, however, incomplete and controversial. To investigate the projections from the amygdala to the claustrum and the endopiriform nucleus, we injected the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin into various divisions of the amygdaloid complex, including the lateral, basal, accessory basal, central, anterior cortical and posterior cortical nuclei, the periamygdaloid cortex, and the amygdalohippocampal area in the rat. Analysis of immunohistochemically processed sections reveal that the heaviest projections to the claustrum originate in the magnocellular division of the basal nucleus. The projection is moderate in density and mainly terminates in the dorsal aspect of the anterior part of the claustrum. Light projections from the parvicellular and intermediate divisions of the basal nucleus terminate in the same region, whereas light projections from the accessory basal nucleus and the lateral division of the amygdalohippocampal area innervate the caudal part of the claustrum. The most substantial projections from the amygdala to the endopiriform nucleus originate in the lateral division of the amygdalohippocampal area. These projections terminate in the central and caudal parts of the endopiriform nucleus. Lighter projections originate in the anterior and posterior cortical nuclei, the periamygdaloid cortex, the medial division of the amygdalohippocampal area, and the accessory basal nucleus. These data provide an anatomic basis for recent functional studies demonstrating that the claustrum and the endopiriform nucleus are strategically located to synchronize and spread epileptiform activity from the amygdala to the other brain regions. These topographically organized pathways also provide a route by means of which the claustrum and the endopiriform nucleus have access to inputs from the amygdaloid networks that process emotionally significant information.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.