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Mesocortical pathway: structures, functions and role in psychoses

Mesocortical pathway: structures, functions and role in psychoses

May 6, 2024

Within the nervous system of the person inhabit hundreds of thousands of neurons that make up their networks and are responsible for transmitting both the electrical impulses and certain substances from one side to another.

The mesocortical pathway that network of neurons that is found through the brain and that exerts a primordial control in the thought, the emotions and the feelings.

  • Related article: "Parts of the human brain (and functions)"

What is the mesocortical route?

It is known as the mesocortical route to the path 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 of the dopaminergic system, having a very important role in cognition, as well as emotions and affectivity.


Injuries or alterations in the mesocortical pathway are common in certain psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, in which it is hypothesized that it is the cause of the cognitive and negative symptomatology of this.

Within the dopaminergic system we also find other routes whose main purpose is to transporting dopamine from one place in the brain to another . The neurons that make up these routes are formed by somas that synthesize dopamine, while the axons are responsible for transmitting it along the entire pathway.

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

  • Via mesolimbic.
  • Mesocortical pathway.
  • Via nigrostriada.
  • Tuberoinfundibular pathway

Parts and structures

As mentioned above, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the cerebral cortex are mainly involved in the mesocortical pathway. Further, 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.

Within the functions of the frontal lobe are linguistic and oral production, as well as phonoarticulatory movements. In addition, the frontal lobes have the important mission of coordinating executive functions. These functions are those that grant the ability to direct behavior, attention, planning , sequencing and reorientation of behavior.

  • Related article: "What is the frontal lobe and how does it work?"

2. Ventral tegmental area

This area also known as ventral tegmentum is formed by a set of neurons located in the midline of the mesencephalon floor.


This area is the origin of the mesocortical dopaminergic pathway and its function is to regulate the brain's natural reward system. Therefore, it has a fundamental role in motivation, pleasure and orgasm, addictions, feelings of love and in some psychiatric disorders.

3. Brain cortex

The cerebral cortex, also known as the cerebral cortex, is formed by the network of neurons that form the tissue that covers the extension of both cerebral hemispheres.

Its functions are focused on governing perception, imagination, thought and reason .

His involvement in brain functions

Like the other dopaminergic pathways, the mesocortical pathway it has a very important role within a series of essential cerebral 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 understand the ability of people to deal with the information they receive from the environment through perception, as well as the interpretation and meaning that they give them.

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

  • Related article: "Cognitive processes: what exactly are they and why do they matter in Psychology?"

2. Emotions and emotions

An emotion is a psychophysiological response to a given stimulus; either a person, a place or situation, an event or the person's own memories.

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

Regarding affectivity, while emotions are associated with a series of bodily reactions, affectivity and feelings are related to the mind.Also, unlike emotion, affectivity involves a process of interaction between two or more people.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Emotional psychology: main theories of emotion"

Implication in psychotic disorders

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

Specifically, in schizophrenia the hypofunction of the mesocortical pathway gives rise to cognitive and negative symptoms of this disorder.

Negative symptomatology

The negative symptomatology characteristic of schizophrenia is that manifested through an impoverishment of personality and relationships and a deterioration of mood .

Within this symptomatology we can find three different subtypes: the alterations in the language, the alterations in the state of mind and a third subgroup with other symptoms that do not fit in the previous ones.

Alterations in the language

Among these symptoms are laconic speech, language poverty and short answers , the lack of content of the language and empty answers, the blockade, and the increase of the response latency.

Alterations in mood

It manifests mainly with dullness or affective flattening, facial inexpressiveness or fewer spontaneous movements.

Also, patients with negative symptoms they show great inconsistencies between the feelings manifested and the situation that surrounds them . An example could be laughing at a funeral or crying with a joke.

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

Other symptoms

Among the rest of negative symptoms in which the mesocortical path is involved, we find apathy and apathy, anhedonia and unsociability, social maladjustment

Cognitive symptoms

The cognitive symptomatology characteristic of schizophrenia refers to problems of concentration and memory, which are reflected in a lack of attention, slow thinking and lack of awareness of the disease , or anosognosia.


Pharmacology - ANTIPSYCHOTICS (MADE EASY) (May 2024).


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