Functional imaging of the thalamus in language

Brain Lang. 2013 Jul;126(1):62-72. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Herein, the literature regarding functional imaging of the thalamus during language tasks is reviewed. Fifty studies met criteria for analysis. Two of the most common task paradigms associated with thalamic activation were generative tasks (e.g. word or sentence generation) and naming, though activation was also seen in tasks that involve lexical decision, reading and working memory. Typically, thalamic activation was seen bilaterally, left greater than right, along with activation in frontal and temporal cortical regions. Thalamic activation was seen with perceptually challenging tasks, though few studies rigorously correlated thalamic activation with measures of attention or task difficulty. The peaks of activation loci were seen in virtually all thalamic regions, with a bias towards left-sided and midline activation. These analyses suggest that the thalamus may be involved in processes that involve manipulations of lexical information, but point to the need for more systematic study of the thalamus using language tasks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Functional Neuroimaging*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology*