Connections of the basal ganglia with the limbic system: implications for neuromodulation therapies of anxiety and affective disorders

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;97(Pt 2):575-86. doi: 10.1007/978-3-211-33081-4_67.


The basal ganglia are best known for their role in motor planning and execution. However, it is currently widely accepted that they are also involved in cognitive and emotional behaviors. Parts of the basal ganglia play a key role in reward and reinforcement, addictive behaviors and habit formation. Pathophysiological processes underlying psychiatric disorders such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and even schizophrenia involve the basal ganglia and their connections to many other structures and particularly to the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. In this article, we aim, on the basis of current research, to describe in a succinct manner the most important connections of the basal ganglia with the limbic system which are relevant to normal behaviors but also to psychiatric disorders. Currently, we possess sufficiently powerful tools that enable us to modulate brain networks such as cortex stimulation (CS) or deep brain stimulation (DBS). Notably, neuromodulation of basal ganglia function for the treatment of movement disorders has become a standard practice, which provides insights into the psychiatric problems that occur in patients with movement disorders. It is clear that a sound understanding of the currently available knowledge on the circuits connecting the basal ganglia with the limbic system will provide the theoretical platform that will allow precise, selective and beneficial neuromodulatory interventions for refractory psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / pathology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / anatomy & histology*
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Mood Disorders / pathology
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*