Distinct Thalamic Reticular Cell Types Differentially Modulate Normal and Pathological Cortical Rhythms

Cell Rep. 2017 Jun 6;19(10):2130-2142. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.05.044.


Integrative brain functions depend on widely distributed, rhythmically coordinated computations. Through its long-ranging connections with cortex and most senses, the thalamus orchestrates the flow of cognitive and sensory information. Essential in this process, the nucleus reticularis thalami (nRT) gates different information streams through its extensive inhibition onto other thalamic nuclei, however, we lack an understanding of how different inhibitory neuron subpopulations in nRT function as gatekeepers. We dissociated the connectivity, physiology, and circuit functions of neurons within rodent nRT, based on parvalbumin (PV) and somatostatin (SOM) expression, and validated the existence of such populations in human nRT. We found that PV, but not SOM, cells are rhythmogenic, and that PV and SOM neurons are connected to and modulate distinct thalamocortical circuits. Notably, PV, but not SOM, neurons modulate somatosensory behavior and disrupt seizures. These results provide a conceptual framework for how nRT may gate incoming information to modulate brain-wide rhythms.

Keywords: TRN; inhibitory neurons; nRT; optogenetic control of seizures; parvalbumin; reticular thalamic nucleus; seizures; somatosensory; somatostatin; thalamocortical oscillations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Waves*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Parvalbumins / biosynthesis
  • Somatostatin / biosynthesis
  • Thalamic Nuclei / cytology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / metabolism*


  • Parvalbumins
  • Somatostatin