The roles of the orbitofrontal cortex via the habenula in non-reward and depression, and in the responses of serotonin and dopamine neurons

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Cortical regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex involved in reward and in non-reward and which are implicated in depression, and the amygdala, are connected to the habenula via the striatum and pallidum, and via subcortical limbic structures. The habenula in turn projects to the raphe nuclei, the source of the serotonin-containing neurons that project to the forebrain. It is proposed that this provides a route for cortical signals related to reward, and to not obtaining expected rewards, to influence the serotonin-containing neuronal system that is influenced by many antidepressant treatments. This helps to provide a more circuit-based understanding of the brain mechanisms related to depression, and how some treatments influence this system. The habenula also projects via the rostromedial tegmental nucleus to the dopamine-containing neurons, and this, it is proposed, provides a route for reward prediction error signals and other reward- and punishment-related signals of cortical and striatal origin to influence the dopamine system.

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