The medial amygdala (m‐AMG) appears to act as an integrative center for sensory, synaptic, and endocrine singnals important in the regulation of reproductive function. Extracellular single‐unit recordings from anesthetized, ovariectomized female rats were used to investigate neuropharmacological, hormonal, and synaptic modulation of neurons in the m‐AMG. Electrical stimulation of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) elicited excitatory or inhibitory orthodromic responses in 72% and antidromic responses in 7% of m‐AMG neurons, whereas stimulation of the midbrain central gray (MCG) induced orthodromic responses in 43% of m‐AMG neurons. Interestingly, most cells that were influenced by MCG stimulation were also orthodromically driven by the VMH, as 40% of all m‐AMG cells responded orthodromically to both the VMH and MCG. Furthermore, the majority of these cells tended to be modulated by both areas in the same direction. Iontophoretic application of glutamate, GABA, ACh, and LHRH could modulate the spontaneous firing rate of m‐AMG neurons. In particular, ACh had a predominantly excitatory action, which was more effective on m‐AMG neurons that were orthodromically driven by the VMH and that were from estrogen‐primed animals. In addition to increasing chemical responsiveness to ACh, estrogen priming of ovariectomized animals also increased the spontaneous firing rate of m‐AMG neurons and decreased the number of silent cells. These modulatory actions on m‐AMG neurons may be important in the medial amygdal's regulation of the behavioral and endocrine aspects of reproductive function in the female rat.
- Luteinizing hormone‐releasing hormone
- Midbrain central gray
- Ventromedial hypothalamus