Cortico-amygdala-striatal circuits are organized as hierarchical subsystems through the primate amygdala

Youngsun T. Cho, Monique Ernst, Julie L. Fudge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The prefrontal and insula cortex, amygdala, and striatum are key regions for emotional processing, yet the amygdala's role as an interface between the cortex and striatum is not well understood. In the nonhuman primate (Macaque fascicularis), we analyzed a collection of bidirectional tracer injections in the amygdala to understand how cortical inputs and striatal outputs are organized to form integrated cortico-amygdala-striatal circuits. Overall, diverse prefrontal and insular cortical regions projected to the basal and accessory basal nuclei of the amygdala. In turn, these amygdala regions projected to widespread striatal domains extending well beyond the classic ventral striatum. Analysis of the cases in aggregate revealed a topographic colocalization of cortical inputs and striatal outputs in the amygdala that was additionally distinguished by cortical cytoarchitecture. Specifically, the degree of cortical laminar differentiation of the cortical inputs predicted amygdalostriatal targets, and distinguished three main cortico-amygdala-striatal circuits. These three circuits were categorized as "primitive," "intermediate," and "developed," respectively, to emphasize the relative phylogenetic and ontogenetic features of the cortical inputs. Within the amygdala, these circuits appeared arranged in a pyramidal-like fashion, with the primitive circuit found in all examined subregions, and subsequent circuits hierarchically layered in discrete amygdala subregions. This arrangement suggests a stepwise integration of the functions of these circuits across amygdala subregions, providing a potential mechanism through which internal emotional states are managed with external social and sensory information toward emotionally informed complex behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14017-14030
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cortico-amygdala-striatal circuits are organized as hierarchical subsystems through the primate amygdala'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this