Mapping the Fasciculus Retroflexus A review on the implications of the lateral habenula in the dopaminergic and serotonergic midbrain areas
Olde Engberink, A.H.O.
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There is growing awareness that motivation and reward are important determining factors of our behavior. The habenular complex is uniquely positioned both anatomically and functionally to participate in the circuit mediating some forms of these behaviors. The habenula, a very intriguing and complex structure, is a node linking the limbic and striatal forebrain with midbrain and hindbrain structures. It is composed of bilaterally medial and lateral subdivisions. Because of this complexity in anatomy and connections, the habenula is implicated in a various range of behaviors. Recent studies suggest that the lateral habenula also plays a pivotal role in cognitive behaviors, such as learning, memory, and attention, by influencing the dopamine and serotonin neurons of the ventral midbrain. Besides, via its inhibitory control over these monoaminergic systems, the lateral habenula exerts influence on reward-related behaviors. Dysfunctions of these cognitive behaviors, as well as the motivation and the reward system, are thought to contribute to the pathology of several neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, the neuroanatomical, developmental, and physiological aspects of the lateral habenula and the fasciculus retroflexus will be discussed, as well as its implications in depression and schizophrenia.