Effects of norepinephrine on the electrical activities of pain-related neurons in the rat nucleus accumbens.
The nucleus accumbens, situated at the junction between rostral pre-commissural caudate and putamen, is now considered to be critically involved in rewarding and motivational functions mediated by the neurotransmitter dopamine. However, in the human, the precise anatomical boundaries of this nucleus are still undetermined and controversy exists as to the extent to which nucleus accumbens activity is controlled by noradrenaline, a related neurotransmitter now much neglected (in favor of dopamine) by the scientific community. Here we resolve the question of noradrenaline in the human nucleus accumbens and identify, in autopsied brain of normal subjects, a small subdivision of the caudomedial portion of this nucleus that selectively contains strikingly high levels of noradrenaline and thus represents the only area in human brain having equally high levels of both noradrenaline and dopamine. The presence of very high, localized noradrenaline concentrations in the caudomedial nucleus accumbens implies a special biological role for this neurotransmitter in human brain motivational processes.