Parabrachial area

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Parabrachial area
Part of Brainstem
Components Medial parabrachial nucleus, Lateral parabrachial nucleus, Subparabrachial nucleus
Latin nuclei parabrachiales
NeuroNames hier-1927
NeuroLex ID Parabrachial nucleus
TA A14.1.05.439
FMA 84024
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

In the human brain, the parabrachial area, also known as the parabrachial complex and parabrachial nucleus, is a horseshoe-shaped strip of gray matter comprising the subparabrachial nucleus, the lateral parabrachial nucleus and the medial parabrachial nucleus. It is located at the junction of the midbrain and Pons in the lateral reticular formation, rostral to the parvocellular reticular nucleus near the superior cerebellar peduncle.[1][2] It gets its name from its closeness to the superior cerebellar peduncle, which is also known as the "brachia conjunctiva."

The subparabrachial nucleus receives signals from the caudal part of the solitary nucleus and sends signals to the lower medulla oblongata, the spinal cord, the amygdala and the lateral hypothalamus; the medial parabrachial nucleus relays information from the cephalic gustatory portion of the solitary nucleus to the ventral posteromedial nucleus of the thalamus; and the lateral parabrachial nucleus receives information from the caudal solitary tract and transmits signals mainly to the medial hypothalamus but also to the lateral hypothalamus and many of the nuclei targeted by the medial parabrachial nucleus.[2]


The parabrachial nucleus contains a hedonic hotspot which mediates "liking" responses to certain pleasurable stimuli, such as sweet taste.[3]


  1. ^ John Alan Kiernan; Murray Llewellyn Barr (2009). Barr's The Human Nervous System: An Anatomical Viewpoint. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 147–8. ISBN 978-0-7817-8256-2. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Thomas P. Naidich; Henri M. Duvernoy; Bradley N. Delman (1 January 2009). Duvernoy's Atlas of the Human Brain Stem and Cerebellum: High-field MRI : Surface Anatomy, Internal Structure, Vascularization and 3D Sectional Anatomy. Springer. p. 324. ISBN 978-3-211-73971-6. 
  3. ^ Berridge KC, Kringelbach ML (May 2015). "Pleasure systems in the brain". Neuron. 86 (3): 646–664. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.02.018. PMC 4425246Freely accessible. PMID 25950633. In the prefrontal cortex, recent evidence indicates that the OFC and insula cortex may each contain their own additional hot spots (D.C. Castro et al., Soc. Neurosci., abstract). In specific subregions of each area, either opioid-stimulating or orexin-stimulating microinjections appear to enhance the number of ‘‘liking’’ reactions elicited by sweetness, similar to the NAc and VP hot spots. Successful confirmation of hedonic hot spots in the OFC or insula would be important and possibly relevant to the orbitofrontal mid-anterior site mentioned earlier that especially tracks the subjective pleasure of foods in humans (Georgiadis et al., 2012; Kringelbach, 2005; Kringelbach et al., 2003; Small et al., 2001; Veldhuizen et al., 2010). Finally, in the brainstem, a hindbrain site near the parabrachial nucleus of dorsal pons also appears able to contribute to hedonic gains of function (Söderpalm and Berridge, 2000). A brainstem mechanism for pleasure may seem more surprising than forebrain hot spots to anyone who views the brainstem as merely reflexive, but the pontine parabrachial nucleus contributes to taste, pain, and many visceral sensations from the body and has also been suggested to play an important role in motivation (Wu et al., 2012) and in human emotion (especially related to the somatic marker hypothesis) (Damasio, 2010).