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Elife. 2017 Dec 29;6. pii: e27995. doi: 10.7554/eLife.27995.

Representation of time interval entrained by periodic stimuli in the visual thalamus of pigeons.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Contributed equally


Animals use the temporal information from previously experienced periodic events to instruct their future behaviors. The retina and cortex are involved in such behavior, but it remains largely unknown how the thalamus, transferring visual information from the retina to the cortex, processes the periodic temporal patterns. Here we report that the luminance cells in the nucleus dorsolateralis anterior thalami (DLA) of pigeons exhibited oscillatory activities in a temporal pattern identical to the rhythmic luminance changes of repetitive light/dark (LD) stimuli with durations in the seconds-to-minutes range. Particularly, after LD stimulation, the DLA cells retained the entrained oscillatory activities with an interval closely matching the duration of the LD cycle. Furthermore, the post-stimulus oscillatory activities of the DLA cells were sustained without feedback inputs from the pallium (equivalent to the mammalian cortex). Our study suggests that the experience-dependent representation of time interval in the brain might not be confined to the pallial/cortical level, but may occur as early as at the thalamic level.


neuroscience; pigeons; thalamus; time

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