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Dopamine and Stress: Circuits Through the Extended Amygdala

Hypothesized organization of the subcircuits originating in the amygdala

Hypothesized organization of the
subcircuits originating in the amygdala
and their influence on the extended
amygdala subdivisions and downstream
dopamine output paths.

Over the last decade, the extended amygdala has been implicated in fear/anxiety behaviors, attention-cognition, and appetitive behavior, including drug addiction. In 2000, we first focused on the potential impact of the extended amygdala on the dopamine system in primates(1, 2). Although the idea was novel—and somewhat controversial-- at that time, subsequent work from other laboratories and our own indicate that the extended amygdala-dopamine pathway is an important pathway mediating the effects of stress-induced behaviors, including depressive-like symptoms and drug-seeking.

The current Project examines the microcircuitry of the extended amygdala-dopamine path. We hope to learn how information on aversive, or threatening, stimuli from individual amygdala subregions projects to the extended amygdala, and is subsequently channeled to specific dopamine output paths. The technique involves precise placement of combinations of neuronal tracers. The details of these combined subcircuits provide a roadmap for understanding how specific dopamine subpopulations may be differentially influenced by discrete amygdala and extended amygdala subregions. Portions of this project are being conducted in collaboration with the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute & Clinics and Harlow Center for Biological Psychology in monkey and human models.

  1. Fudge JL, Haber SN (2000): The central nucleus of the amygdala projection to dopamine subpopulations in primates. Neuroscience. 97:479-494
  2. Fudge JL, Haber SN (2001): Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and extended amygdala inputs to dopamine subpopulations in primates. Neuroscience. 104:807-827

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