Arousal dependent modulation of thalamo-cortical functional interaction

Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 25;9(1):2455. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04785-6.


Ongoing changes in arousal influence sensory processing and behavioral performance. Yet the circuit-level correlates for this influence remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate how functional interaction between posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and lateral posterior (LP)/Pulvinar is influenced by ongoing fluctuations in pupil-linked arousal, which is a non-invasive measure of neuromodulatory tone in the brain. We find that fluctuations in pupil-linked arousal correlate with changes to PPC to LP/Pulvinar oscillatory interaction, with cortical alpha oscillations driving activity during low arousal states, and LP/Pulvinar driving PPC in the theta frequency band during higher arousal states. Active visual exploration by saccadic eye movements elicits similar transitions in thalamo-cortical interaction. Furthermore, the presentation of naturalistic video stimuli induces thalamo-cortical network states closely resembling epochs of high arousal in the absence of visual input. Thus, neuromodulators may play a role in dynamically sculpting the patterns of thalamo-cortical functional interaction that underlie visual processing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Ferrets
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Pulvinar / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*