Corticothalamic network dysfunction and Alzheimer's disease

Brain Res. 2019 Jan 1:1702:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2017.09.014. Epub 2017 Sep 15.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by progressive cognitive decline and a prominent loss of hippocampal-dependent memory. Therefore, much focus has been placed on understanding the function and dysfunction of the hippocampus in AD. However, AD is also accompanied by a number of other debilitating cognitive and behavioral alterations including deficits in attention, cognitive processing, and sleep maintenance. The underlying mechanisms that give rise to impairments in such diverse behavioral domains are unknown, and identifying them would shed insight into the multifactorial nature of AD as well as reveal potential new therapeutic targets to improve overall function in AD. We present here several lines of evidence that suggest that dysregulation of the corticothalamic network may be a common denominator that contributes to the diverse cognitive and behavioral alterations in AD. First, we will review the mechanisms by which this network regulates processes that include attention, cognitive processing, learning and memory, and sleep maintenance. Then we will review how these behavioral and cognitive domains are altered in AD. We will also discuss how dysregulation of tightly regulated activity in the corticothalamic network can give rise to non-convulsive seizures and other forms of epileptiform activity that have also been documented in both AD patients and transgenic mouse models of AD. In summary, the corticothalamic network has the potential to be a master regulator of diverse cognitive and behavioral domains that are affected in AD.

Keywords: Attention; Hippocampus; Seizures; Sleep maintenance; Thalamic reticular nucleus; Thalamus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*