Introduction and development: The thalamus is the gateway to the neocortex. Most of the information that reaches the neocortex is transmitted through thalamocortical fibres. The neocortex, in turn, sends massive feedback to the thalamus through corticothalamic fibres. The sensory input reaches the thalamus by means of the primary sensory fibres. When the properties of these pathways are explored, they are found to present specific response characteristics. These studies have generally been conducted during anaesthesia or other quiescent states. Yet when the properties of these synaptic connections are explored in the active states typical of information processing, their responses are substantially different.
Conclusion: These changes appear to be necessary to set the pathways of the thalamocortical system in a state of sensory input processing and, therefore, could account for the transformations that take place in order to sustain attentional and perceptive processes.