Distinct functions for direct and transthalamic corticocortical connections

J Neurophysiol. 2011 Sep;106(3):1068-77. doi: 10.1152/jn.00429.2011. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Essentially all cortical areas receive thalamic inputs and send outputs to lower motor centers. Cortical areas communicate with each other by means of direct corticocortical and corticothalamocortical pathways, often organized in parallel. We distinguish these functionally, stressing that the transthalamic pathways are class 1 (formerly known as "driver") pathways capable of transmitting information, whereas the direct pathways vary, being either class 2 (formerly known as "modulator") or class 1. The transthalamic pathways provide a thalamic gate that can be open or closed (and otherwise more subtly modulated), and these inputs to the thalamus are generally branches of axons with motor functions. Thus the transthalamic corticocortical pathways that can be gated carry information about the cortical processing in one cortical area and also about the motor instructions currently being issued from that area and copied to other cortical areas.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology*