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Dopamine pathways

 

Explanations > Brains > Brain Chemistry > Dopamine pathways

Mesolimbic pathway | Mesocortical pathway | Nigrostriatal pathway | Tuberoinfundibular pathway | See also

 

Dopamine pathways are routes through the brain by which dopamine is spread to a range of different destinations in the brain. There are eight dopamine pathways. Here are the main four.

Mesolimbic pathway

The mesolimbic pathway or mesolimbic system transmits dopamine from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens, and includes the amygdala and the hippocampus. This is achieved by neurons that have their soma in the ventral tegmental area projecting axons out to the named areas.

It is significantly involved with reward and pleasure and is hence of great interest in studies in motivation and addiction, where it has been linked with alcohol, nicotine and cocaine.

Mesocortical pathway

The mesocortical pathway or mesocortical system transmits dopamine from the ventral tegmental area to the frontal lobe of the pre-frontal cortex. This is achieved by neurons that have their soma in the ventral tegmental area projecting axons out to the frontal lobe.

It is believed to be involved in motivational and emotional responses.

Nigrostriatal pathway

The nigrostriatal pathway or nigrostriatal system transmits dopamine from the substantia nigra to the neostriatum. This is achieved by neurons that have their soma in the substantia nigra projecting axons out to the caudate nucleus and the putamen.

It is involved in movement in a system called the Basal ganglia motor loop.

Tuberoinfundibular pathway

The tuberoinfundibular pathway transmits dopamine from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland.

Dopamine released here regulates secretion of prolactin from the anterior pituitary gland.

See also

Dopamine

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