Action Selection and Flexible Switching Controlled by the Intralaminar Thalamic Neurons

Cell Rep. 2018 Feb 27;22(9):2370-2382. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.02.016.


Learning processes contributing to appropriate selection and flexible switching of behaviors are mediated through the dorsal striatum, a key structure of the basal ganglia circuit. The major inputs to striatal subdivisions are provided from the intralaminar thalamic nuclei, including the central lateral nucleus (CL) and parafascicular nucleus (PF). Thalamostriatal neurons in the PF modulate the acquisition and performance of stimulus-response learning. Here, we address the roles of the CL thalamostriatal neurons in learning processes by using a selective neural pathway targeting technique. We show that the CL neurons are essential for the performance of stimulus-response learning and for behavioral flexibility, including reversal and attentional set-shifting of learned responses. In addition, chemogenetic suppression of neural activity supports the requirements of these neurons for behavioral flexibility. Our results suggest that the main contribution of the CL thalamostriatal neurons is functional control of the basal ganglia circuit linked to the prefrontal cortex.

Keywords: action selection; behavioral flexibility; central lateral nucleus; chemogenetics; immunotoxin targeting; intralaminar thalamic nucleus; lentiviral vector; retrograde gene transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity
  • Motor Skills
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Transgenes


  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins