The thalamus is the largest structure of the mammalian diencephalon. It comprises many nuclear groups, each concerned with transmitting characteristic afferent signals to specific areas of the cerebral cortex. The thalamus is often described as the gateway to the cerebral cortex. The term thalamus is a Greek word meaning “inner chamber.” Its origin dates back to the 2nd century ad, when Galen traced the optic-nerve fibers to an oval mass closely associated with the ventricles. This part of the brain, known as the optic thalamus, was later defined as a large mass of gray matter involved with visual stimuli and in the processing of all sensory modalities except olfaction. The size of the thalamus is relatively small compared with that of the neocortex, but the functions of each major neocortical area largely depend on the interactions with well-defined thalamic cell groups. For this reason, an increase in size of any neocortical area is correlated with a corresponding...


Deep Brain Stimulation Thalamic Nucleus Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Reticular Nucleus Relay Neuron 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press, Totowa, NJ 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoland Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Department of NeurologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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