Microcircuitry of the Rostral Nucleus of the Solitary Tract

Joseph B. Travers and Susan P. Travers

in Handbook of Brain Microcircuits

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780195389883
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965137 | DOI:
Microcircuitry of the Rostral Nucleus of the Solitary Tract

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The rostral division of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST) is the primary portal by which gustatory information reaches the brain. Within the nucleus, glutamatergic afferent fibers synapse in a rostral to caudal orotopy. In mammals, four NST subdivisions with differing densities of morphologically distinct cell types, outputs, and centrifugal influences are apparent. Solitary nucleus neurons receive convergent peripheral input and are under influences from higher-order taste and homeostatic brain regions and several neuromodulators. Taste stimulation typically evokes spike rate increases but these responses are sculpted by pervasive phasic and tonic inputs from GABAergic interneurons. Major projections, which arise from non-GABAergic neurons, include an ascending “lemniscal” pathway to the parabrachial nucleus and local connections to the subjacent medullary reticular formation (RF). Indeed, the intimate relationship between the rostral NST and RF suggests an integrated functional entity for affecting salivary and oromotor function, the “rostral solitary complex”.

Chapter.  2270 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

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