Thalamic synchrony and dynamic regulation of global forebrain oscillations

Trends Neurosci. 2007 Jul;30(7):350-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2007.05.007. Epub 2007 Jun 4.


The circuitry within the thalamus creates an intrinsic oscillatory unit whose function depends critically on reciprocal synaptic connectivity between excitatory thalamocortical relay neurons and inhibitory thalamic reticular neurons along with a robust post-inhibitory rebound mechanism in relay neurons. Feedforward and feedback connections between cortex and thalamus reinforce the thalamic oscillatory activity into larger thalamocortical networks to generate sleep spindles and spike-wave discharge of generalized absence epilepsy. The degree of synchrony within the thalamic network seems to be crucial in determining whether normal (spindle) or pathological (spike-wave) oscillations occur, and recent studies show that regulation of excitability in the reticular nucleus leads to dynamical modulation of the state of the thalamic circuit and provide a basis for explaining how a variety of unrelated genetic alterations might lead to the spike-wave phenotype. In addition, given the central role of the reticular nucleus in generating spike-wave discharge, these studies have suggested specific interventions that would prevent seizures while still allowing normal spindle generation to occur. This review is part of the INMED/TINS special issue Physiogenic and pathogenic oscillations: the beauty and the beast, based on presentations at the annual INMED/TINS symposium (

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology*