The structural organization of connections between hypothalamus and cerebral cortex

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1997 Sep 19;24(2-3):197-254. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0173(97)00007-6.


Motivated behavior requires coordinated somatic, autonomic, and endocrine responses, and may be divided into initiation, procurement, and consummatory phases (Swanson, L.W. and Mogenson, G.J., Neural mechanisms for the functional coupling of autonomic, endocrine and somatomotor responses in adaptative behavior, Brain Res. Rev., 3 (1981) 1-34). Obviously, such behavior may involve the entire central nervous system, although it is important to identify circuitry or systems that mediate the behavior directed toward specific goal objects. This problem has recently been clarified by the identification of hypothalamic subsystems important for the execution of instinctive behaviors related to ingestion, reproduction, and defense. These subsystems are modulated by sensory (reflex), central control (e.g., circadian), and voluntary (cortical) inputs. The latter are dominated by inputs from the ventral temporal lobe and medial prefrontal region, which are both direct and via associated parts of the basal nuclei (ganglia). Hypothalamic output is characterized by descending projections to brainstem and spinal motor systems, and by projections back to the cerebral cortex, which are both direct and via a continuous rostromedial part of the dorsal thalamus. This thalamic region includes the anterior, medial, and midline groups, which in turn innervate a continuous ring of cortex that includes the hippocampal formation and the cingulate, prefrontal, and insular regions. Parts of this thalamic region also innervate the ventral striatum, which receives a massive input from the cortical rings as well.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology