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Flashcards in The thalamus Deck (18)
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+Convey sensory input to primary sensory areas of cortex
+gatekeeper preventing or enhancing passage of specific information,
+receive return inputs from the neocortex

+Consists of well- defined nuclei

Some nuclei receive information specific to a sensory modality and project to specific areas while others have more diffuse projections, also connects to frontal lobe and plays a role in memory

The thalamus also receives feedback from the neocortex: input is as large as output


Relay/ Specific Nuclei of the Thalamus

Specific and selective relationship with a particular portion of the neocortex



-Surrounded by internal medullary lamina

-Input from mammillary nuclei of hypothalamus & presubiculum of the hippocampal formation
- Related to memory and emotion
- Interconnected with cingulate & frontal cortices



Mainly consists of Mediodorsal nucleus
- Has three subdivisions which are connected to parts of the frontal cortex
- Input from basal ganglia, amygdala, midbrain
- Related to memory



- Ventral anterior and ventral lateral nuclei: Motor control =>carry information from basal ganglia & cerebellum to motor cortex
- Ventral posterior lateral nucleus: Conveys somatosensory information to the neocortex (pathway: medial lemniscus)



- Medial geniculate nucleus (posterior part of thalamus): Auditory system, tonotopy, information to the superior temporal gyrus
- Lateral geniculate nucleus (posterior part of thalamus): Visual system, conveys information to the primary visual cortex


Nonspecific nuclei of the Thalamus

Project to several cortical and subcortical regions
1. Midline nuclei
2. Intralaminar nuclei
3. Reticular nucleus


Intralaminar nuclei

- Projections to medial temporal lobe (amygdala, hippocampus) and basal ganglia and receive inputs from spinal cord, brain stem and cerebellum
- Mediate cortical arousal & participate in the integration of sensory submodalities


Reticular nucleus (outer covering of the thalamus)

- Inhibitory neurons using GABA
- Not interconnected with the neocortex but axons terminate on the other nuclei of the thalamus and receives input from these
- ‘Filter’, gating information flow to the neocortex


Basal ganglia

- Receive direct projections from sensory, motor and premotor areas & association cortex parts important for motivation, cognition and emotion
- Output to the thalamus which projects to the cortex
- Dysfunction: Parkinson’s and Huntington’s



- Receive somatosensory information from primary afferents from spinal cord and corticospinal axons descending from the
- Error- correcting mechanism: Compare movement commands from cortex with somatic sensory information about what actually happened
 Predictive control of movement
- Allows motor control systems to adapt motor commands to changing conditions of musculature
- Influence on posture and movement by connecting to brain stem motor nuclei
- Major influence: Connections in ventrolateral nuclei of hypothalamus, which directly connect with motor and premotor cortex


The somatosensory cortex contains several neural maps of the body surface

Area 3: Basic processing of tactile information S1
Brodmann 3b= Sensitive to tactile stimulation of skin surface (Anterior Parietal Cortex= primary somatosensory cortex)

Area 1: Higher- order processing/ more complex

Area 2: Combine tactile information with information concerning limb position, mediating tactile recognition of objects


Unimodal vs Multimodal association modaities

Unimodal: concerned with single modality

Multimodal: Neurons from S1 project to neurons in adjacent areas
+use of somatosensory information to control movement, eye- hand coordination and memories related to touch
o Combination of sensory modalities
o Interconnected with hippocampus important for unified percept and the representation of percept in memory
o Closely linked to Motor cortex (precentral gyrus)


Somatotopic organization

 The cortex is organized into columns of cells that have a specialized function: the larger the area of cortex dedicated to a function, the greater the number of columns that are dedicated to it
 The somatosensory cortex contains not one but several somatotopic arrays of inputs from the skin  several neural maps of the body surface (different maps are for processing of basic or more complex information)
 At higher levels in the hierarchy of cortical connections somatosensory info is used in motor control, eye-hand coordination and memory related touch

The processing begins with primary sensory areas, continues in unimodal areas and is completed in multimodal association areas
Processing occurs in serial and parallel pathways


Voluntary movement is mediated by direct connections between the cortex and the spinal cord

primary motor cortex is organized somatotopically like the somatic sensory cortex
 Axons of neurons in layer V of the primary motor cortex project through the corticospinal tract to the spinal cord
 The axons descend through the subcortical white matter, the internal capsule and the cerebral peduncle in the midbrain
 The descending corticospinal tract crosses to the opposite side of the spinal cord – most fibers cross the midline in the medulla
 The fibers make monosynaptic connections with motor neurons (individuated finger movements) and form synapses with interneurons in the spinal cord (coordinating larger groups of muscles)
Information is modulated by both sensory information and other motor information
 Cerebellum and basal ganglia provide constantly feedback necessary for smoothly executed movements


primary sensory areas

somatosensory cortex=>Anterior parietal cortex, motor cortex,


Unimodal association cortex

Anterior pariuetal cortex=> Posterior parietal cortex, premotor cortex


Multimodal association cortex

posterior parietal coretx=> cingulate cortex, parahippocampal cortex, temporal association cortex