Topography of projections from amygdala to bed nuclei of the stria terminalis.
A collection of 125 PHAL experiments in the rat has been analyzed to characterize the organization of projections from each amygdalar cell group (except the nucleus of the lateral olfactory tract) to the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis, which surround the crossing of the anterior commissure. The results suggest three organizing principles of these connections. First, the central nucleus, and certain other amygdalar cell groups associated with the main olfactory system, innervate preferentially various parts of the lateral and medial halves of the bed nuclear anterior division, and these projections travel via both the stria terminalis and ansa peduncularis (ventral pathway). Second, in contrast, the medial nucleus, and the rest of the amygdalar cell groups associated with the accessory and main olfactory systems innervate preferentially the posterior division, and the medial half of the anterior division, of the bed nuclei. And third, the lateral and anterior basolateral nuclei of the amygdala (associated with the frontotemporal association cortical system) do not project significantly to the bed nuclei. For comparison, inputs to the bed nuclei from the ventral subiculum, infralimbic area, and endopiriform nucleus are also described. The functional significance of these projections is discussed with reference to what is known about the output of the bed nuclei.