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Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 24;8(1):15684. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33815-y.

Multisensory integration in rodent tactile but not visual thalamus.

Author information

1
Developmental Neurophysiology, Institute of Neuroanatomy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20251, Hamburg, Germany. malte.bieler@zmnh.uni-hamburg.de.
2
Laboratory for Neural Computation, Department of Physiology, University of Oslo, 0372, Oslo, Norway. malte.bieler@zmnh.uni-hamburg.de.
3
Developmental Neurophysiology, Institute of Neuroanatomy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20251, Hamburg, Germany.
4
Developmental Neurophysiology, Institute of Neuroanatomy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20251, Hamburg, Germany. hangop@zmnh.uni-hamburg.de.

Abstract

Behavioural performance requires a coherent perception of environmental features that address multiple senses. These diverse sensory inputs are integrated in primary sensory cortices, yet it is still largely unknown whether their convergence occurs even earlier along the sensory tract. Here we investigate the role of putatively modality-specific first-order (FO) thalamic nuclei (ventral posteromedial nucleus (VPM), dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN)) and their interactions with primary sensory cortices (S1, V1) for multisensory integration in pigmented rats in vivo. We show that bimodal stimulation (i.e. simultaneous light flash and whisker deflection) enhances sensory evoked activity in VPM, but not dLGN. Moreover, cross-modal stimuli reset the phase of thalamic network oscillations and strengthen the coupling efficiency between VPM and S1, but not between dLGN and V1. Finally, the information flow from VPM to S1 is enhanced. Thus, FO tactile, but not visual, thalamus processes and relays sensory inputs from multiple senses, revealing a functional difference between sensory thalamic nuclei during multisensory integration.

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