Topography of the magnocellular basal forebrain system in human brain

John C. Hedreen, Robert G. Struble, Peter J. Whitehouse, Donald L. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In primates, the large neurons in the nucleus basalis of Meynert (nbM), nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca (dbB), and medial septum are part of a cholinergic system with direct projections to amygdala, hippocampus, and cortex. Recent evidence indicates that neurons of this system selectively degenerate in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and suggests that degeneration of these cells contributes to the loss of presynaptic cortical cholinergic markers which occurs in these patients. The present report describes the topographical distribution of these large, intensely basophilic, basal forebrain neurons in human brain. Rostrally, neurons of this mag- nocellular system are present in the medial septum and the dorsal and ventral parts of the nucleus of the dbB. The largesj number occur in the nbM, which is situated in the substantia innominata below the globus pallidus. Caudally, large nbM-type neurons are found along the ventral and lateral edges of the globus pallidus. Neurons of this type are also encountered in the white matter below the putamen and nucleus accumbens, at the edges of the anterior commissure, in the white matter laminae of the globus pallidus and within and at the medial edge of the genu of the interal capsule. Directions for dissection of this sytem in human brain are given in an Appendix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Basal forebrain cholinergic system
  • Nucleus basalis of meynert
  • Nucleus of the diagonal band of broca
  • Substantia innominata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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