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Learn Mem. 2019 Jun 17;26(7):191-205. doi: 10.1101/lm.048389.118. Print 2019 Jul.

The nucleus reuniens of the thalamus sits at the nexus of a hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex circuit enabling memory and behavior.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam NL-1007MB, The Netherlands.
2
Center for Neuroscience, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam NL-1098XH, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.
4
Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, 60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
5
Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York 12208, USA.
6
Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for Neural Computation, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim NO-7491, Norway.
7
Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida 33431, USA.
8
Cognitive Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA.
9
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA.

Abstract

The nucleus reuniens of the thalamus (RE) is a key component of an extensive network of hippocampal and cortical structures and is a fundamental substrate for cognition. A common misconception is that RE is a simple relay structure. Instead, a better conceptualization is that RE is a critical component of a canonical higher-order cortico-thalamo-cortical circuit that supports communication between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the hippocampus (HC). RE dysfunction is implicated in several clinical disorders including, but not limited to Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and epilepsy. Here, we review key anatomical and physiological features of the RE based primarily on studies in rodents. We present a conceptual model of RE circuitry within the mPFC-RE-HC system and speculate on the computations RE enables. We review the rapidly growing literature demonstrating that RE is critical to, and its neurons represent, aspects of behavioral tasks that place demands on memory focusing on its role in navigation, spatial working memory, the temporal organization of memory, and executive functions.

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