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Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Sep;30(9):3066-78. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20728.

Functional connectivity between the thalamus and visual cortex under eyes closed and eyes open conditions: a resting-state fMRI study.

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State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, China.


The thalamus and visual cortex are two key components associated with the alpha power of electroencephalography. However, their functional relationship remains to be elucidated. Here, we employ resting-state functional MRI to investigate the temporal correlations of spontaneous fluctuations between the thalamus [the whole thalamus and its three largest nuclei (bilateral mediodorsal, ventrolateral and pulvinar nuclei)] and visual cortex under both eyes open and eyes closed conditions. The whole thalamus show negative correlations with the visual cortex and positive correlations with its contralateral counterpart in eyes closed condition, but which are significantly decreased in eyes open condition, consistent with previous findings of electroencephalography desynchronization during eyes open resting state. Furthermore, we find that bilateral thalamic mediodorsal nuclei and bilateral ventrolateral nuclei have remarkably similar connectivity maps, and resemble to those of the whole thalamus, suggesting their crucial contributions to the thalamus-visual correlations. The bilateral pulvinar nuclei are found to show distinct functional connectivity patterns, compatible with previous findings of the asymmetry of anatomical and functional organization in the nuclei. Our data provides evidence for the associations of intrinsic spontaneous neuronal activity between the thalamus and visual cortex under different resting conditions, which might have implications on the understanding of the generation and modulation of the alpha rhythm.

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