The ventral striatum is a portion of the striatum which functions as part of the reward system. It consists of the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. In non-primate species, the islands of Calleja are included. It is associated with the limbic system and has been implicated as a vital part of the circuitry for decision making and reward behaviors, including addiction.
|NeuroLex ID||Ventral striatum|
|Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy|
Location and Structure
The Ventral Striatum is a subcortical part of the forebrain, located within the striatum, anterior to the plane of the anterior commissure. The striatum itself is subdivided into sectors along a ventromedial-dorsolateral continuum largely based upon the external connectivity of different areas. The ventral striatum includes the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle.
The ventral striatum receives direct input from multiple regions in the cerebral cortex and limbic structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus. Its primary input is to the basal ganglia system. Additionally, the mesolimbic dopamine pathway projects to the ventral striatum.
The primary outputs of the ventral striatum project to the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra pars compacta. Some of its other outputs include projections to the ventral pallidum extended amygdala, lateral hypothalamus, and pedunculopontine nucleus.
The ventral striatum is closely associated with decision-making, risk, and reward, in addition to suppressing certain actions in the limbic system. It primarily mediates reward cognition, reinforcement, and motivational salience. Dopamine is its most vital neurotransmitter; thoughts of gain (monetary, emotional, or otherwise) will increase dopamine in the ventral striatum, whereas thoughts of loss decrease dopamine. This regulation of dopamine influences the impact of reward-related stimuli on behavior.
Novel, motivational, and emotion-provoking stimuli influence the activity of the neurons in the ventral striatum, probably due to inputs from the hippocampus and amygdala. The neurons that respond elsewhere in the brain to reinforcing or novel visual stimuli may mirror the inputs to the ventral striatum from the limbic system. This suggests that the ventral striatum provides a route for learned reinforcing and novel visual stimuli to influence behavior.
Dysfunction in the ventral striatum can lead to a variety of disorders, most notably, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because of its involvement in reward pathways, the ventral striatum has also been implicated in playing a critical role in addiction. It has been well established that the ventral striatum is strongly involved in mediating the reinforcing effects of drugs, especially stimulants, through dopaminergic stimulation.
- Gregorios-Pippas L, Tobler PN, Schultz W (March 2009). "Short-term temporal discounting of reward value in human ventral striatum". J. Neurophysiol. 101 (3): 1507–23. doi:10.1152/jn.90730.2008. PMC 2666398. PMID 19164109.
- Ubeda-Bañon I, Novejarque A, Mohedano-Moriano A, et al. (2007). "Projections from the posterolateral olfactory amygdala to the ventral striatum: neural basis for reinforcing properties of chemical stimuli". BMC Neurosci 8: 103. doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-103. PMC 2216080. PMID 18047654.
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