Gravity orientation tuning in macaque anterior thalamus

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Dec;19(12):1566-1568. doi: 10.1038/nn.4423. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Gravity may provide a ubiquitous allocentric reference to the brain's spatial orientation circuits. Here we describe neurons in the macaque anterior thalamus tuned to pitch and roll orientation relative to gravity, independently of visual landmarks. We show that individual cells exhibit two-dimensional tuning curves, with peak firing rates at a preferred vertical orientation. These results identify a thalamic pathway for gravity cues to influence perception, action and spatial cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anterior Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Gravitation*
  • Macaca
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Space Perception / physiology*