Transient inactivation of the thalamic nucleus reuniens and rhomboid nucleus produces deficits of a working-memory dependent tactile-visual conditional discrimination task

Behav Neurosci. 2013 Dec;127(6):860-6. doi: 10.1037/a0034653.


Working memory depends on communication between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC); however, the neural circuitry that mediates interactions between these brain areas has not been well characterized. Two candidate structures are the thalamic reuniens (RE) and rhomboid (Rh) nuclei, which are reciprocally connected with both the hippocampus and PFC. These known anatomical connections suggest that RE/Rh may be involved in mediating hippocampal-prefrontal communication, and therefore may be critical for working memory processing. To test the hypothesis that RE/Rh are necessary for working memory, we trained separate groups of rats to perform 1 of 2 tasks in a T-maze. The first task was a working memory-dependent conditional discrimination (CDWM) task, and the second task was a nonworking memory-dependent conditional discrimination (CD) task. These tasks took place in the same maze, featured the same number of trials, and utilized the same cue (a tactile-visual maze insert). After rats had learned either task, RE/Rh were transiently inactivated with the GABAA receptor agonist muscimol, and performance was assessed. RE/Rh inactivation caused performance deficits on the CDWM task, but not the CD task. This result suggests that RE/Rh are a necessary component of working memory task performance, which is also thought to depend on the hippocampal-prefrontal circuit. RE/Rh inactivation did not cause a performance deficit on the CD task, suggesting that RE/Rh have dissociable contributions to working memory-dependent and nonworking memory-dependent tasks, independently of the known contributions of these 2 thalamic nuclei to the sensorimotor and attention-related aspects of other memory tasks.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / drug effects
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Muscimol / administration & dosage
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Spatial Behavior / drug effects
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception / drug effects
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Muscimol