Are emotion and motivation localized in the limbic system and nucleus accumbens?

C. H. Vanderwolf, M. E. Kelly, P. Kraemer, A. Streather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Groups of control rats without surgery or groups of rats prepared with surgical lesions of the septal nuclei, amygdala, cingulate cortex, accumbens nucleus, section of the fornix, or sham surgical operations, were tested in a simple autonomic conditioning situation (conditioned defecation). Control rats and rats with lesions of the accumbens nucleus were also tested in a straight alley maze under varying conditions of water deprivation. In general, the lesions had little effect except that amygdaloid damage impaired acquisition of conditioned defecation. The theory that 'emotion' and 'motivation' can be localized in the 'limbic system' and nucleus accumbens is discussed critically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. We thank D. McFabe for preparing some of the brain sections, L. Giugno for demonstrating his method of handling rats with septal lesions, G. Tu for carrying out some of the experiments, R.K. Cooley for expert technical assistance, and L. Mitchell for her patience in typing the manuscript.


  • Emotion
  • Lesion
  • Limbic system
  • Motivation
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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