The cognitive thalamus

The cognitive thalamus

Neurex meeting

Jean-Christophe Cassel & Anne Pereira de Vasconcelos (LNCA, Strasbourg)

The thalamus – the largest diencephalic structure with its about 60 nuclei – has long been considered a structure bidirectionnally relaying information between subcortical and cortical regions. Over the two last decades, some of its nuclei have been recognized as having a major role in various aspects of cognition. Indeed, thalamic lesions are associated with a panel of cognitive dysfunctions including amnesia, aphasia, alterations in executive functions, attention, perseveration… in both neurological patients and animal models. Over the last five years, research in both humans and laboratory animals has provided new support (e.g., 136 research articles and reviews in 2017) pointing to a specific role of some of these thalamic nuclei in the dynamic interactions between limbic structures and cortical areas implicated in cognitive functions (e.g., hippocampus, prefrontal cortex). There will be a particular emphasis on processes underlying functions encompassing, for instance, behavioural flexibility, working memory, memory persistence… Data and arguments presented will come from MRI studies in humans and experimental approaches in animal models, including non human primates.

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