The thalamic reticular nucleus: more than a sensory nucleus?

K Mc Alonan, Verity Joy Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sensory information is routed to the cortex via the thalamus, but despite this sensory bombardment, animals must attend selectively to stimuli that signal danger or opportunity. Sensory input must be filtered, allowing only behaviorally relevant information to capture limited attentional resources. Located between the thalamus and cortex is a thin lamina of neurons called the thalamic reticular nucleus (Rt). The thalamic reticular nucleus projects exclusively to thalamus, thus forming an essential component of the circuitry mediating sensory transmission. This article presents evidence supporting a role for Rt beyond the mere relay of sensory information. Rather than operating as a component of the sensory relay, the authors suggest that Rt represents an inhibitory interface or "attentional gate," which regulates the flow of information between the thalamus and cortex. Recent findings have also implicated Rt in higher cognitive functions, including learning, memory, and spatial cognition. Drawing from recent insights into the dynamic nature of the thalamic relay in awake, behaving animals, the authors present a speculative account of how Rt might regulate thalamocortical transmission and ultimately the contents of consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-305
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscientist
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002

Keywords

  • sensorimotor gating
  • attention
  • selectivity
  • thalamus
  • PRIMARY VISUAL-CORTEX
  • SOMATOTOPIC ORGANIZATION
  • RAT
  • NEURONS
  • PROJECTIONS
  • ACTIVATION
  • COMPLEX
  • HYPOTHESIS
  • PATHWAYS
  • MEMORY

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