The organization of emotional motor behavior including jaw movements is governed by neural circuits of the limbic system, such as the amygdala and hypothalamus. GABAergic neurons in the central amygdaloid nucleus (CeA) exert an inhibitory influence on premotor neurons for the trigeminal motor nucleus (Vm) in the parvicellular reticular formation (RFp) of the medulla oblongata. The CeA also influences glutamatergic posterior lateral hypothalamic neurons and non-dopaminergic neurons in the retrorubral field of the midbrain, both of which send their axons to Vm-premotor neurons in the RFp. In addition, the CeA may modulate the activity of Vm motoneurons via projections to the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus whose neurons convey inputs from the masticatory muscle spindles and periodontal ligament receptors to jaw-closing motoneurons in the Vm. These pathways from the amygdala to the trigeminal motor system in the lower brainstem may underlie the regulation of emotional jaw movement.
Part of the book: The Amygdala