Thalamocortical Relations



Since about 1995, a new view of the sensory thalamus and its influence on the cortex has emphasized that thalamocortical (TC) cells are not simple relay neurons whose sole function is to transfer sensory information, without modification, from the animal’s environment to the sensory cortex. Rather, TC cells are now viewed as highly sensitive modifiers of this information that base the nature and degree of their modification upon the state of the organism (Edeline 2003; Winer et al. 2005). The effect of these state changes is brought about by the other indirect non-environmental inputs which make up more than 80% of the synapses impinging on a thalamocortical cell. Equally striking is that some TC cells may not be activated primarily by their direct inputs from the sensory environment but instead may be more strongly driven by the internal environment, that is, by neural sources such as the cerebral and cerebellar cortex that lie outside the ascending sensory pathway (Bender 1983; Diamond et al. 1992; Guillery 1995; Rouiller and Welker 2000). Thus, the information reaching the cortex by the TC system is in a continuous state-dependent flux.


Pyramidal Cell Auditory Cortex Inferior Colliculus Thalamic Reticular Nucleus Medial Geniculate Body 



auditory cortex


primary auditory cortex


amplitude modulated


α-amino-3-hydroxy-4-isoxazoepropionic acid






receptive field


characteristic frequency


caudomedial cortical area


dorsal cortex


external nucleus




bilateral summation


bilateral suppression


bilateral occlusion


excitatory postsynaptic potentials


fast spiking


g-aminobutyric acid


intrinsically bursting


inferior colliculus


central nucleus of the inferior colliculus


inhibitory postsynaptic potential


anterior subdivision of the dorsal division of the medial geniculate body


medial geniculate body


dorsal nucleus of the medial geniculate body


medial division of the medial geniculate body


posterior subdivision of the dorsal division of the medial geniculate body


ventral nucleus of the medial geniculate body








posterodorsal region


posterior interlaminar








receptive field


rostromedial cortical area






spectrotemporal receptive field




thalamic reticular nucleus



This work was supported by NIH Grant R01 DC006013 to Matthew Banks and NIH Grant R01 DC006212 to Philip Smith.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyUniversity Wisconsin Medical SchoolMadisonUSA

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