The visceral sector of the thalamic reticular nucleus in the rat

Neuroscience. 2001;106(4):745-55. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00316-5.


Visceral sensory perception is subjected to modulation by attention or distraction, like other sensory systems. The thalamic reticular nucleus is a key region in selective attention, effecting a change in the mode of thalamocortical transmission. Each major thalamocortical system is connected with a particular sector of the thalamic reticular nucleus. No connections from the thalamic reticular nucleus have been described to the visceral sensory thalamus. We used axonal tracing techniques to study the possible existence of reciprocal connections between the visceral sensory relay in the lateral ventroposterior parvicellular thalamic nucleus, and the reticular nucleus of the thalamus. We also studied the projections from the visceral sensory cortex, located in the granular insular cortex in the rat, to the reticular nucleus of the thalamus. We found a convergent input from both thalamic and cortical sensory visceral regions to the same sector of the reticular nucleus of the thalamus. This visceral sector in turn sent GABAergic feedback connections to the lateral ventroposterior parvicellular thalamic nucleus. In addition, the visceral thalamus received histaminergic projections from the tuberomammillary nucleus, and noradrenergic projections from the locus coeruleus; both nuclei belong to the ascending activating system. Our findings indicate that the visceral sensory thalamocortical pathway is connected to the same subcortical structures that provide attention mechanisms for other thalamocortical systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei / cytology*
  • Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Molecular Probes
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology*
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Ventral Thalamic Nuclei / cytology*
  • Ventral Thalamic Nuclei / metabolism
  • Visceral Afferents / cytology*
  • Visceral Afferents / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Molecular Probes
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1