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Ventral tegmentum

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(Redirected from Ventral tegmental area)

The ventral tegmentum or the ventral tegmental area (VTA) 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:

  1. the mesolimbic pathway, which connects the VTA to the nucleus accumbens
  2. the mesocortical pathway, which connects the VTA to cortical areas in the frontal lobes

It is considered to be part of the pleasure or reward system, one of the major sources of incentive and behavioural motivation. Activities which produce pleasure tend to activate the ventral tegmentum, and drugs (such as cocaine) directly target this area. Hence it is widely implicated in neurobiological theories of addiction.

It is also implicated in theories of emotion and security motivation, where it may also play a role in avoidance and fear conditioning.

The term tegmentum comes from the Latin word for "covering."

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