Amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis circuitry: Implications for addiction-related behaviors

Neuropharmacology. 2014 Jan;76 Pt B(0 0):320-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.05.046. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Complex motivated behavioral processes, such as those that can go awry following substance abuse and other neuropsychiatric disorders, are mediated by a distributive network of neurons that reside throughout the brain. Neural circuits within the amygdala regions, such as the basolateral amygdala (BLA), and downstream targets such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), are critical neuroanatomical structures for orchestrating emotional behavioral responses that may influence motivated actions such as the reinstatement of drug seeking behavior. Here, we review the functional neurocircuitry of the BLA and the BNST, and discuss how these circuits may guide maladaptive behavioral processes such as those seen in addiction. Thus, further study of the functional connectivity within these brain regions and others may provide insight for the development of new treatment strategies for substance use disorders. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'NIDA 40th Anniversary Issue'.

Keywords: Addiction; Anxiety; Basolateral amygdala; Circuits; Extended amygdala; Plasticity; Reward; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Septal Nuclei / pathology*