The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis was first described nearly a century ago and has since emerged as a region central to motivated behavior and affective states. The last several decades have firmly established a role for the BNST in drug-associated behavior and implicated this region in addiction-related processes. Whereas past approaches used to characterize the BNST have focused on a more general role of this region and its subnuclei in behavior, more recent work has begun to reveal its elaborate circuitry and cellular components. Such recent developments are largely owed to methodological advances, which have made possible efforts previously deemed intractable, such as tracing of long-range cell-type specific projections and identifying functional efferent and afferent connections. In this review, we integrate earlier foundational work with more recent and advanced studies to construct a broad overview of the molecular neurocircuitry of the BNST in drug-associated behavior and affect.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled “Alcoholism”.