Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 155, Issue 12, pp 2389–2398 | Cite as

Three dimensional anatomy of the human nucleus accumbens

  • L. Lucas-NetoEmail author
  • D. Neto
  • E. Oliveira
  • H. Martins
  • B. Mourato
  • F. Correia
  • A. Rainha-Campos
  • A. Gonçalves-Ferreira
Experimental research - Neurosurgical Anatomy



The Nucleus accumbens (Acc) is the main structure of the ventral striatum. It acts as a motor-limbic interface, being involved in emotional and psychomotor functions, frequently disturbed in neuropsychiatric disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction. Most of the studies concerning the Acc were made in animals and those performed in humans are contradictory. Nevertheless, it has become a target for stereotactic deep brain stimulation for some of those diseases, when refractory to medical treatment. Previous studies performed by our group have established the localization, limits and dimensions of the human Acc and its stereotactic coordinates. Now it is our purpose to perform the Acc anatomical three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction in order to clarify its shape and topography and to render this nucleus a safer target for stereotactic procedures.


Anatomical coronal slicing of ten Acc from human brains was performed, perpendicular to the anterior commissure-posterior commissure line and to the midline; then the Acc contours were traced and its dimensions and 3D stereotactic coordinates measured, on each slice. Finally a 3D computerized model was created.


The human Acc was identified as a distinct brain structure, with clear-cut limits on its posterior half. It lies parallel to the midline, descends caudally, and progresses from a globose to a flattened and dorsolateral concave shape. Its main expression is subcomissural.


This study defined more accurately the 3D anatomy of the human Acc, providing new tools for stereotactic procedures.


Nucleus accumbens Deep brain stimulation Three-dimensional anatomy Stereotaxy 


Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Lucas-Neto
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • D. Neto
    • 1
  • E. Oliveira
    • 1
    • 3
  • H. Martins
    • 1
  • B. Mourato
    • 1
  • F. Correia
    • 1
  • A. Rainha-Campos
    • 1
    • 3
  • A. Gonçalves-Ferreira
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Anatomy DepartmentLisbon Medical SchoolLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Neuroradiology DepartmentLisbon North Medical CenterLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Neurosurgery DepartmentLisbon North Medical CenterLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Instituto de Anatomia da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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