Adaptive Pulvinar Circuitry Supports Visual Cognition

Trends Cogn Sci. 2016 Feb;20(2):146-157. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.10.003. Epub 2015 Nov 6.


The pulvinar is the largest thalamic nucleus in primates and one of the most mysterious. Endeavors to understand its role in vision have focused on its abundant connections with the visual cortex. While its connectivity mapping in the cortex displays a broad topographic organization, its projections are also marked by considerable convergence and divergence. As a result, the pulvinar is often regarded as a central forebrain hub. Moreover, new evidence suggests that its comparatively modest input from structures such as the retina and superior colliculus may critically shape the functional organization of the visual cortex, particularly during early development. Here we review recent studies that cast fresh light on how the many convergent pathways through the pulvinar contribute to visual cognition.

Keywords: human; primate; superior colliculus; thalamus; vision; visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Pulvinar / growth & development
  • Pulvinar / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*