Grants awarded

The long and winding road: connecting cortex to cortex through the thalamus 

Grantholder:

Dr Andre Marques-Smith

University College London

United Kingdom

The thalamus is often described as modulating and relaying sensory information to the cortex. However, several thalamic areas – known as the high-order nuclei (HOn) – mainly receive input from the cortex instead of the periphery. They connect reciprocally to a variety of cortical areas, which has hampered our understanding of them. I propose that the inhibitory circuits controlling HOn are key to advancing our knowledge as they can direct information flow through specific HOn pathways and influence correlations between thalamic neurons and cortical networks.

I will map which cortical areas are coactive with distinct HOn neurons in behaving mice, how this is influenced by behavioural contexts and how thalamic inhibitory neurons coordinate between HOn pathways. I will then disrupt activity in different thalamic inhibitory neurons and study how this affects thalamo-cortical activity. I will also determine the circuits that could be implementing inhibition by mapping them in brain slices.

My findings will add to our knowledge of the role of the thalamus.