Neuroscientists from across the country gathered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in September to honor Ray Guillery and his seminal work on the thalamus. The meeting focused on three timely research topics, each of which inspired new thinking about thalamic function. Presentations on the organization and dynamic nature of thalamocortical pathways, the role of the thalamus in communication between cortical areas, and the relationship between sensory and motor pathways of the brain, including cognitive aspects of thalamocortical processing, made for lively discussions. The meeting revealed that communication between thalamus and cortex is so rich that we should no longer consider the operations of either structure separately from the other. Proceedings of the meeting will be published in Progress in Brain Research in 2005. In this report, we provide a general overview of the main themes of the meeting.