Dynamics of sensory thalamocortical synaptic networks during information processing states

Prog Neurobiol. 2004 Nov;74(4):213-47. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2004.09.002.


The thalamocortical network consists of the pathways that interconnect the thalamus and neocortex, including thalamic sensory afferents, corticothalamic and thalamocortical pathways. These pathways are essential to acquire, analyze, store and retrieve sensory information. However, sensory information processing mostly occurs during behavioral arousal, when activity in thalamus and neocortex consists of an electrographic sign of low amplitude fast activity, known as activation, which is caused by several neuromodulator systems that project to the thalamocortical network. Logically, in order to understand how the thalamocortical network processes sensory information it is essential to study its response properties during states of activation. This paper reviews the temporal and spatial response properties of synaptic pathways in the whisker thalamocortical network of rodents during activated states as compared to quiescent (non-activated) states. The evidence shows that these pathways are differentially regulated via the effects of neuromodulators as behavioral contingencies demand. Thus, during activated states, the temporal and spatial response properties of pathways in the thalamocortical network are transformed to allow the processing of sensory information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Vibrissae / innervation*