Injury to the anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) and their neural connections is the most consistent neuropathology associated with diencephalic amnesia. ATN lesions in rats produce memory impairments that support a key role for this region within an extended hippocampal system of complex overlapping neural connections. Environmental enrichment is a therapeutic tool that produces substantial, although incomplete, recovery of memory function after ATN lesions, even after the lesion-induced deficit has become established. Similarly, the neurotrophic agent cerebrolysin, also counters the negative effects of ATN lesions. ATN lesions substantially reduce c-Fos expression and spine density in the retrosplenial cortex, and reduce spine density on CA1 neurons; only the latter is reversed by enrichment. We discuss the implications of this evidence for the cognitive thalamus, with a proposal that there are genuine interactions among different but allied thalamo-cortical systems that go beyond a simple summation of their separate effects.
Keywords: CA1; Cerebrolysin; Enrichment; Retrosplenial; Spines; Thalamic amnesia.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.