[Dopaminergic A10 neurons and frontal system (author's transl)]

J Physiol (Paris). 1981 Apr;77(1):81-95.
[Article in French]


Lesions in the rat of the ventral mesencephalic tegmentum (vmt) which contains the A10 dopaminergic (DA) cell bodies, have a wide range of effects on behaviour. The principal characteristic of such lesioned animals is a locomotor hyperactivity and a disinhibition of behavioural supression with serious consequences for behaviour fundamental to the survival of the individual and the species. 1 Initially, we felt that an anatomical study of the region could provide a basis for explaining the vmt syndrome. We decided, therefore, to use several anatomical techniques, such as silver staining, anterograde tracing using autoradiography, and retrograde tracing with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). These studies have led to the following conclusions: (1) The vmt neurones are an important interface between anterior limbic structures and posterior limbic and reticular regions. (2) vmt neurones have specific anatomical relations with the frontal system, i.e., the prefrontal cortex and the anterior striatum. 2 Secondly, we wondered if such anatomical connections were the basis for functional relationships. We have therefore studied animals in a delayed alternation task, which is a sensitive and selective test of damage to the frontal system. Rats with electrolytic or 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of the DA cells in the vmt show large deficits in delayed alternation tasks. 6-OHDA lesions of the DA A10 terminals in the prefrontal cortex, the anterior striatum or the nucleus accumbens lead to similar behavioural deficits. Moreover, the specificity of such deficits has been shown in a runway test and a visual discrimination task. 3 On the basis of these results, we put forward the hypothesis that the A10 DA neurones play a role in the integration of information from internal and external stimuli which are relayed to the prefrontal system. From this viewpoint, a deficit in selective attention lies at the heart of the different forms of the vmt syndrome.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / anatomy & histology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / metabolism
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*


  • Dopamine