The Septal Area, anatomy and function

Basil Manning
The Septal Area, anatomy and function

Thanks to advances in neuroscience and anatomy, today we know an area in the brain located in the frontal lobe whose diverse connections throughout the rest of the brain make it a key area to carry out different emotional and regulatory functions, among many other Today we talk about the characteristics of the septal area and the septal nuclei, regions that are part of the limbic system and whose characteristics are detailed below.


  • What is the septal area?
  • Septal nuclei
  • Functions of the septal area
  • Lesions in the septal area
    • Links of interest

What is the septal area?

The septal area is an area of ​​the brain located in the inferoposterior area of ​​the medial aspect of the frontal lobe, located in front of the terminal lamina, a lamina composed of gray matter that connects the optic chiasm and the anterior commissure. It is also located next to the lower area of ​​the corpus callosum. A structure composed of nerve fibers that is responsible for unifying the two cerebral hemispheres.

The septal area manages to regulate the emotional state thanks to its ability to inhibit other brain areas responsible for the emotional and stressful process, such as the amygdala, a key region whose function is very importantly associated with the reaction of fear and emotions, among others. In addition, this area is involved, along with many other structures, in emotional and pleasure processing..

Septal nuclei

Within the septal area are the septal nuclei, a group of cell nuclei that lie in front of the corpus callosum and adjacent to the septum. They are considered part of the limbic system and connect with other structures of the same system.

Among the functions of the septal nuclei, is their participation in emotional, sexual, aggressive behaviors, as well as a modulation of autonomic functions and certain implications in attention and memory through cholinergic neurons.

The septal nuclei receive adhesions (neurons that arrive) from the hippocampus, a structure considered key in memory processes. They also receive adhesions from the amygdala, the ventral tegmental area and from several hypothalamic nuclei, among other structures..

In turn, the septal nuclei go towards the hippocampus and the dentate gyrus, a brain area also associated with memory and memories..

Functions of the septal area

As we have previously indicated, the septal area and in turn the septal nuclei have close connections with the hippocampus and the medial hypothalamus, very important structures in the limbic system that are key in functions such as emotions, memory, organic balance or level alert. The septal area seems to produce an inhibition in the structures of the limbic system, reducing the level of alertness. This provides improvements in memory and attention that are not diminished by a high state of stress. Thus, the septal nuclei manage to modulate pleasant sensations and extreme states of alertness, managing to integrate the different cognitive processes such as motivation, emotion or memory to achieve a state of stillness and balance..

In addition, it has been proven that the stimulation of the septal nuclei through electrodes leads to intense pleasure responses that make the body seek pleasure over and over again despite subsequently achieving negative consequences.

Lesions in the septal area

Lesions in the septal area or in the septal nuclei have shown certain deficits in different fields of human and animal behavior. When damage occurs in these areas, highly reactive behaviors can occur to sexual or food stimuli. This is because there is a lack of regulation in the limbic system due to the cessation of the inhibition that this region processes in its normal functioning.

In addition, the connections that this area maintains with structures such as the hippocampus mean that memory or learning can also be impaired. As we have seen before, when this area is stimulated on the contrary, pleasant responses are very important. This has been shown even in studies with animals whose septal areas have been stimulated. After stimulation, the animals have maintained obsessive pleasurable responses even if these were followed by an aversive consequence. That is why the importance that this brain area has in the sensation of pleasure is confirmed.

Links of interest

  • Autonomic-Hypothalamic-Limbic Systems. David L. Felten. 2016.
  • Septal area. Dr Craig Hacking.

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