The paraventricular (PV) and paratenial (PT) nuclei are prominent cell groups of the midline thalamus. To our knowledge, only a single early report has examined PV projections and no previous study has comprehensively analyzed PT projections. By using the anterograde anatomical tracer, Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin, and the retrograde tracer, FluoroGold, we examined the efferent projections of PV and PT. We showed that the output of PV is virtually directed to a discrete set of limbic forebrain structures, including 'limbic' regions of the cortex. These include the infralimbic, prelimbic, dorsal agranular insular, and entorhinal cortices, the ventral subiculum of the hippocampus, dorsal tenia tecta, claustrum, lateral septum, dorsal striatum, nucleus accumbens (core and shell), olfactory tubercle, bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BST), medial, central, cortical, and basal nuclei of amygdala, and the suprachiasmatic, arcuate, and dorsomedial nuclei of the hypothalamus. The posterior PV distributes more heavily than the anterior PV to the dorsal striatum and to the central and basal nuclei of amygdala. PT projections significantly overlap with those of PV, with some important differences. PT distributes less heavily than PV to BST and to the amygdala, but much more densely to the medial prefrontal and entorhinal cortices and to the ventral subiculum of hippocampus. As described herein, PV/PT receive a vast array of afferents from the brainstem, hypothalamus, and limbic forebrain, related to arousal and attentive states of the animal, and would appear to channel that information to structures of the limbic forebrain in the selection of appropriate responses to changing environmental conditions. Depending on the specific complement of emotionally associated information reaching PV/PT at any one time, PV/PT would appear positioned, by actions on the limbic forebrain, to direct behavior toward a particular outcome over a range of outcomes.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.