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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Apr;25(4):845-8. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht296. Epub 2013 Nov 7.

Thalamic relay or cortico-thalamic processing? Old question, new answers.

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Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


What are the functions implemented by neurons in the sensory nuclei of the thalamus? It seems that this question has accompanied cortical and thalamic studies since their onset some 6 decades ago. Over the years, the simplistic, traditional view of thalamic neurons as mere relays of sensory information has given way to more sophisticated views, of which several alternative hypotheses have been proposed. This commentary briefly reviews the 2 current major hypotheses and shows how a new, pioneering experiment, published in Cerebral Cortex by Groh, Acsady and colleagues, discriminates between them. The commentary further elaborates on the thalamo-cortical processing suggested by the new findings, the general sensory-motor scheme to which these findings may be relevant, and the possible roles such thalamo-cortical processing may have in sensory-motor control.


gating; relay; thalamo-cortical loop; thalamus; whisking control

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