Functional topography of midbrain and pontine serotonergic systems: implications for synaptic regulation of serotonergic circuits

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Feb;213(2-3):243-64. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-2089-z. Epub 2010 Nov 19.


Rationale: Dysfunction of serotonergic systems is thought to play an important role in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Recent studies suggest that there is anatomical and functional diversity among serotonergic systems innervating forebrain systems involved in the control of physiologic and behavioral responses, including the control of emotional states.

Objective: Here, we highlight the methods that have been used to investigate the heterogeneity of serotonergic systems and review the evidence for the unique anatomical, hodological, and functional properties of topographically organized subpopulations of serotonergic neurons in the midbrain and pontine raphe complex.

Conclusion: The emerging understanding of the topographically organized synaptic regulation of brainstem serotonergic systems, the topography of the efferent projections of these systems, and their functional properties, should enable identification of novel therapeutic approaches to treatment of neurological and psychiatric conditions that are associated with dysregulation of serotonergic systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Serotonin