The ventral pallidum: Subregion-specific functional anatomy and roles in motivated behaviors

David H. Root, Roberto I. Melendez, Laszlo Zaborszky, T. Celeste Napier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


The ventral pallidum (VP) plays a critical role in the processing and execution of motivated behaviors. Yet this brain region is often overlooked in published discussions of the neurobiology of mental health (. e.g., addiction, depression). This contributes to a gap in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. This review is presented to help bridge the gap by providing a resource for current knowledge of VP anatomy, projection patterns and subregional circuits, and how this organization relates to the function of VP neurons and ultimately behavior. For example, ventromedial (VPvm) and dorsolateral (VPdl) VP subregions receive projections from nucleus accumbens shell and core, respectively. Inhibitory GABAergic neurons of the VPvm project to mediodorsal thalamus, lateral hypothalamus, and ventral tegmental area, and this VP subregion helps discriminate the appropriate conditions to acquire natural rewards or drugs of abuse, consume preferred foods, and perform working memory tasks. GABAergic neurons of the VPdl project to subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata, and this VP subregion is modulated by, and is necessary for, drug-seeking behavior. Additional circuits arise from nonGABAergic neuronal phenotypes that are likely to excite rather than inhibit their targets. These subregional and neuronal phenotypic circuits place the VP in a unique position to process motivationally relevant stimuli and coherent adaptive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-70
Number of pages42
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Addiction
  • Dopamine
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Ventral tegmental area


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