Mesocortical route: structures, functions and role in psychosis

In a person’s nervous system live hundreds of thousands of neurons that make up their networks and are responsible for transmitting both electrical impulses and certain substances from side to side.

The mesocortical pathway is this network of neurons that crosses the brain and that he exercises primary control over thought, emotions and feelings.

    What is the mesocortical route?

    It is known as the mesocortical pathway leading to the pathway or bundle of neurons that connect the ventral tegmental area and the cerebral cortex, especially at the height of the frontal lobe. The mesocortical pathway is one of the most important pathways in the dopaminergic system, playing a very important role in cognition as well as in emotions and affectivity.

    Mesocortical tract injuries or alterations are common in some psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, in which it is hypothesized that it is the cause of the cognitive and negative symptomatology thereof.

    Within the dopaminergic system we also find other pathways, the main task of which is that of transporting dopamine from one part of the brain to another. The neurons that make up these pathways are formed sums that synthesize dopamine, while axons are responsible for transmitting it throughout the pathway.

    These pathways which accompany the mesocortical pathway and form the dopaminergic system are:

    • Mesolimbic road.

    • Mesocortical route.
    • Your black band.
    • Your tuberoinfundibular.

    Parts and structures

    As mentioned above, the ventral tegmental zone (VTA) and the cerebral cortex are mainly involved in the mesocortical pathway. Outraged, this connection is made at the level of the frontal lobe.

    1. Frontal lobe

    The frontal lobe is an area of ​​the cerebral cortex located in the anterior area of ​​the brain, its main characteristic being that it is only fully developed in more complex animals such as vertebrates, mainly hominids.

    In the functions of the frontal lobe are the linguistic and oral production, as well as the phonoarticulatory movements. In addition, the frontal lobes have the very important task of coordinating executive functions. These functions are what they grant the ability to direct behavior, attention, planning, Sequencing and reorientation of behaviors.

      2. Ventral tegmental zone

      This area, also known as the ventral roof, is made up of a collection of neurons located in the midline of the floor of the midbrain.

      This area is the origin site of the mesocortical dopaminergic pathway and has the regular function of the brain’s natural reward system. Therefore, it plays a key role in motivation, pleasure and orgasm, addictions, romantic feelings and in some psychiatric disorders.

      3. Cerebral cortex

      The cerebral cortex, also called the cerebral cortex, is made up of the network of neurons that form the tissue that covers the extension of the two cerebral hemispheres.

      Its functions focus on governance perception, imagination, thought and reason.

      Its involvement in brain functions

      Like other dopaminergic pathways, the mesocortical pathway it plays a very important role in a number of essential brain functions for the mental health of the person.

      These functions are on the one hand cognition as an executive function and emotions and affectivity on the other.

      1. Cognition

      By cognition we mean the ability of people to process the information they receive from the environment through perception, as well as the interpretation and meaning they give it.

      Cognition is used in a large number of processes such as learning, reasoning, attention, memory or problem solving.

        2. Emotions and affectivity

        An emotion is a psychophysiological response to a given stimulus; be it a person, a place or a situation, an event or his own memories.

        At the psychological level, emotions generate changes in attention and activate or inhibit certain behaviors. Also, it also has the ability to strengthen important associations in memory.

        As for affectivity, if emotions are associated with a number of bodily reactions, affectivity and feelings are linked to the mind. Moreover, unlike emotion, affectivity involves a process of interaction between two or more people.

          Involvement in psychotic disorders

          Once the fields of action and functions of the mesocortical pathway are known, it is easier to understand why a decrease in its activity can lead to many symptoms characteristic of psychotic disorders.

          More precisely, in schizophrenia, hypofunction of the mesocortical tract gives rise to cognitive and negative symptoms of this disorder.

          negative symptoms

          The negative symptomatology of schizophrenia is that manifested by impoverishment of personality and relationships and deterioration of mood.

          In this symptomatology we can find three different subtypes: speech alterations, mood alterations and a third subgroup with other symptoms that do not fit into the above.

          Language changes

          Among these symptoms are laconic speech, linguistic poverty and short answers, Lack of linguistic content and empty responses, blocking and increased response latency.

          Mood alterations

          It mainly manifests as blunt or emotional flattening, lack of facial expression, or less spontaneous movement.

          In addition, patients with negative symptoms they show great inconsistencies between the feelings manifested and the situation around them. An example might be laughing at a funeral or crying with a joke.

          Finally, other symptoms related to mood are inappropriate affection or ambivalence, a feeling of emptiness and the feeling of deep anguish.

          other symptoms

          Other negative symptoms in which the mesocortical pathway is involved include abulia and apathy, anhedonia and unsociability, social inadequacy.

          cognitive symptoms

          Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia refer to problems with concentration and memory, which result in lack of attention. slow thinking and lack of awareness of the disease, anosognosia.

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