The anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) and the intralaminar/lateral thalamic nuclei (ILN/LT) play different roles in memory processes. The ATN are believed to be part of an extended hippocampal system, and the ILN/LT have strong connections with the medial prefrontal cortex. It was shown that the ILN/LT are involved in systems consolidation. However, whether they are necessary for memory retrieval as well remains unclear. We, therefore, used c-Fos immunohistochemistry and reversible inactivations to investigate the role of the ATN and ILN/LT in recent and remote contextual fear memory retrieval in rats. The results confirm a differential role of the ATN and ILN/LT in systems consolidation, showing the involvement of the ATN in recent but not remote memory retrieval. This study also pinpoints which specific nuclei are involved in retrieval: the anterodorsal nucleus for recent memories, and the lateral mediodorsal nucleus for remote memories. Lastly, we also show that the ATN are not involved in reconsolidation. Together, the results suggest that these nuclei provide critical feedback for successful memory retrieval and systems consolidation.
Keywords: Rat; Recent memory; Reconsolidation; Remote memory; Systems consolidation; Thalamus.