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The cognitive thalamus

Author(s): Saalmann, Yuri B.; Kastner, Sabine

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Abstract: The thalamus, once viewed as passively relaying sensory information to the cerebral cortex, is becoming increasingly acknowledged as actively regulating the information transmitted to cortical areas. There are a number of reasons for this change. First, evidence suggests that first-order thalamic areas, like the lateral geniculate nucleus, ventral division of the medial geniculate nucleus, and the ventral posterior nuclei, can modulate neural processing along the sensory pathways to the cortex according to behavioral context (O’Connor et al., 2002; McAlonan et al., 2008). Second, much of the thalamus receives relatively little input from the sensory periphery, instead receiving its major driving input from the cortex. This higher-order thalamus forms pathways between cortical areas, which can strongly influence cortical activity (Theyel et al., 2010; Purushothaman et al., 2012; Saalmann et al., 2012). Third, lesions to higher-order thalamic areas, such as the pulvinar and mediodorsal nucleus, can produce severe attention and memory deficits (Saalmann and Kastner, 2011; Baxter, 2013; Bradfield et al., 2013; Jankowski et al., 2013; Mitchell and Chakraborty, 2013), suggesting an important role for the thalamus in cognition.
Publication Date: 17-Mar-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 17-Mar-2015
Citation: Saalmann, Yuri B, Kastner, Sabine. (2015). The cognitive thalamus. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9 (10.3389/fnsys.2015.00039
DOI: doi:10.3389/fnsys.2015.00039
EISSN: 1662-5137
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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