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

J Comp Neurol. 1996 Oct 21;374(3):387-420. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19961021)374:3<387::AID-CNE6>3.0.CO;2-Y.


The organization of axonal projections from the basomedial nucleus of the amygdala (BMA) was examined with the Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHAL) method in adult male rats. The anterior and posterior parts of the BMA, recognized on cytoarchitectonic grounds, display very different projection patterns. Within the amygdala, the anterior basomedial nucleus (BMAa) heavily innervates the central, medial, and anterior cortical nuclei. In contrast, the posterior basomedial nucleus (BMAp) sends a dense projection to the lateral nucleus, and to restricted parts of the central and medial nuclei. Extra-amygdalar projections from the BMA are divided into ascending and descending components. The former end in the cerebral cortex, striatum, and septum. The BMAa mainly innervates olfactory (piriform, transitional) and insular areas, whereas the BMAp also innervates inferior temporal (perirhinal, ectorhinal) and medial prefrontal (infralimbic, prelimbic) areas and the hippocampal formation. Within the striatum, the BMAa densely innervates the striatal fundus, whereas the nucleus accumbens receives a heavy input from the BMAp. Both parts of the BMA send massive projections to distinct regions of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis. Descending projections from the BMA end primarily in the hypothalamus. The BMAa sends a major input to the lateral hypothalamic area, whereas the BMAp innervates the ventromedial nucleus particularly heavily. Injections were also placed in the anterior cortical nucleus (COAa), a cell group superficially adjacent to the BMAa. PHAL-labeled axons from this cell group mainly ascend into the amygdala and olfactory areas, and descend into the thalamus and lateral hypothalamic area. Based on connections, the COAa and BMAa are part of the same functional system. The results suggest that cytoarchitectonically distinct anterior and posterior parts of the BMA are also hodologically distinct and form parts of distinct anatomical circuits probably involved in mediating different behaviors (for example, feeding and social behaviors vs. emotion-related learning, respectively).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Basal Ganglia / cytology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants