Table 1

Studies informing our emerging understanding of the functions of the subregions of the BNST

Region of BNSTFunctionSpecies
Right anteriorActivated during threat >safe contrast in healthy control participants40 Human
AnteroventralParaventricular nucleus excitation, promotes corticosterone secretion41 Rat
PosteriorInhibits stress-induced paraventricular nucleus excitation, adrenocorticotropic hormone release and plasma corticosterone responses41 Rat
Anterolateral (encompassing oval nucleus)Attenuates stress-induced reductions in weight gain at the end of 7-day stress period: mediating consequences of repeated stress?42 Rat
AnterodorsalSocial behaviour, namely defensive and reproductive behaviour43; promotes anxiolytic behaviour, for example, decreased risk avoidance, decreased respiratory rate, positive conditioning valence38 Rat
Oval nucleusAnxiogenic (perhaps by inhibiting anterodorsal BNST)38 Rat
VentralInnervates VTA, stimulating glutamatergic projections results in aversive/anxiogenic phenotypes, stimulating GABAergic projections results in rewarding/anxiolytic phenotypes by the inhibition of VTA GABAergic neurons39; noradrenergic neurons may control freezing behaviour44 Rat
  • Note that the majority of work has been done in rodents, due to the lack of spatial resolution of MRI prior to the advent of 7T MRI scanning.

  • BNST, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid; VTA, ventral tegmental area.