Organization of projections from the medial nucleus of the amygdala: a PHAL study in the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1995 Sep 18;360(2):213-45. doi: 10.1002/cne.903600203.


The organization of axonal projections from the four recognized parts of the medial amygdalar nucleus (MEA) were characterized with the Phaesolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHAL) method in male rats. The results indicate that the MEA consists of two major divisions, ventral and dorsal, and that the former may also consist of rostral and caudal regions. As a whole, the MEA generates centrifugal projections to several parts of the accessory and main olfactory sensory pathways, and projections to a) several parts of the intrahippocampal circuit (ventrally); b) the ventral striatum, ventral pallidum, and bed nuclei of the stria terminalis (BST) in the basal telencephaon; c) many parts of the hypothalamus; d) midline and medial parts of the thalamus; and e) the periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmental area, and midbrain raphé. The dorsal division of the MEA (the posterodorsal part) is characterized by projections to the principal nucleus of the BST, and to the anteroventral periventricular, medial, and central parts of the medial preoptic, and ventral premammillary hypothalamic nuclei. These hypothalamic nuclei project heavily to neuroendocrine and autonomic-related parts of the hypothalamic periventricular zone. The ventral division of the MEA (the anterodorsal, anteroventral, and posteroventral parts) is characterized by dense projections to the transverse and interfascicular nuclei of the BST, and to the lateral part of the medial preoptic, anterior hypothalamic, and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei. However, dorsal regions of the ventral division provide rather dense inputs to the medial preoptic region and capsule of the ventromedial nucleus, whereas ventral regions of the ventral division preferentially innervate the anterior hypothalamic, dorsomedial, and ventral parts of the ventromedial nuclei. Functional evidence suggests that circuits associated with dorsal regions of the ventral division may deal with reproductive behavior, whereas circuits associated with ventral regions of the ventral division may deal preferentially with agonistic behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Hypothalamus / immunology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley