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The ventral tegmentum or the ventral tegmental area (VTA) (tegmentum, Latin for covering) is part of the midbrain, lying close to the substantia nigra and the red nucleus. It is rich in dopamine and serotonin neurons, and is part of two major dopamine pathways:
- the mesolimbic pathway, which connects the VTA to the nucleus accumbens
- the mesocortical pathway, which connects the VTA to cortical areas in the frontal lobes.
The ventral tegmentum is considered to be part of the pleasure system, or reward circuit, one of the major sources of incentive and behavioural motivation. Activities that produce pleasure tend to activate the ventral tegmentum, and psychostimulant drugs (such as cocaine) directly target this area. Hence, it is widely implicated in neurobiological theories of addiction.
- List of regions in the human brain
- mesocortical pathway
- mesolimbic pathway
- nucleus accumbens
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