Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
This article investigates the functional connectivity patterns of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) in 18 healthy participants using a resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) protocol. Also, a meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM) was used to characterize patterns of functional coactivations involving NAcc: The results of a structure-based meta-analyses of 57 fMRI and PET studies were submitted to activation likelihood estimation analysis to estimate consistent activation patterns across the different imaging studies. The results of the combined rsFC and MACM analyses show that spontaneous activity in NAcc predicts activity in regions implicated in reward circuitries, including orbitomedial prefrontal cortex, globus pallidus, thalamus, midbrain, amygdala, and insula. This confirms the key role of NAcc in the mesocorticolimbic system, which integrates inputs from limbic and cortical regions. We also detected activity in brain regions having few or no direct anatomical connections with NAcc, such as sensorimotor cortex, cerebellum, medial and posterior parietal cortex, and medial/inferior temporal cortex, supporting the view that not all functional connections can be explained by anatomical connections but can also result from connections mediated by third areas. Our rsFC findings are in line with the results of the structure-based meta-analysis: MACM maps are superimposable with NAcc rsFC results, and the reward paradigm class is the one that most frequently generates activation in NAcc. Our results overlap considerably with recently proposed schemata of the main neuron systems in the limbic forebrain and in the anterior part of the limbic midbrain in rodents and nonhuman primates.