The medial (M) an posteromedial cortical (C3) amygdaloid nuclei and the nucleus of the accessory olfactory tract (NAOT) are designated the "vomeronasal amygdala" because they are the only components of the amygdala to receive a direct projection from the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). The efferents of M and C3 were traced after injections of 3H-proline into the amygdala in male golden hamsters. Frozen sections of the brains were processed for autoradiography. The efferents of the "vomeronasal amygdala" are largely to areas which are primary and secondary terminal areas along the vomeronasal pathway, although the efferents from C3 and M terminate in different layers in these areas than do the projections from the vomeronasal nerve or the AOB. Specifically, C3 projects ipsilaterally to the internal granule cell layer of the AOB, the cellular layer of NAOT, and layer Ib of M. Additional fibers from C3 terminate in a retrocommissural component of the bed nucleus of the strain terminalis (BNST) bilaterally, and in the cellular layers of the contralateral C3. The medial nucleus projects to the cellular layer of the ipsilateral NAOT, layer Ib of C3, and bilaterally to the medial component of BNST. Projections from M to non-vomeronasal areas terminate in the medial preoptic area-anterior hypothalamic junction, ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, ventral premammillary nucleus and possibly in the ventral subiculum. These results demonstrate reciprocal connections between primary and secondary vomeronasal areas between the secondary areas themselves. They suggest that M, but not C3, projects to areas outside this vomeronasal network. The medial amygdaloid nucleus is therefore an important link between the vomeronasal organ and areas of the brain not receiving direct vomeronasal input.
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