There are several brain regions that have been implicated in the control of motivated behavior and whose disruption leads to the pathophysiology observed in major psychiatric disorders. These systems include the ventral hippocampus, which is involved in context and focus on tasks, the amygdala, which mediates emotional behavior, and the prefrontal cortex, which modulates activity throughout the limbic system to enable behavioral flexibility. Each of these systems has overlapping projections to the nucleus accumbens, where these inputs are integrated under the modulatory influence of dopamine. Here, we provide a systems-oriented approach to interpreting the function of the dopamine system, its modulation of limbic-cortical interactions and how disruptions within this system might underlie the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and drug abuse.
ASJC Scopus subject areas