The Regulatory Role of the Human Mediodorsal Thalamus

Trends Cogn Sci. 2018 Nov;22(11):1011-1025. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.08.006. Epub 2018 Sep 17.


The function of the human mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MD) has so far eluded a clear definition in terms of specific cognitive processes and tasks. Although it was at first proposed to play a role in long-term memory, a set of recent studies in animals and humans has revealed a more complex, and broader, role in several cognitive functions. The MD seems to play a multifaceted role in higher cognitive functions together with the prefrontal cortex and other cortical and subcortical brain areas. Specifically, we propose that the MD is involved in the regulation of cortical networks especially when the maintenance and temporal extension of persistent activity patterns in the frontal lobe areas are required.

Keywords: mediodorsal thalamus; memory; neuroimaging; persistent activity; prefrontal cortex; temporal extension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mediodorsal Thalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Mediodorsal Thalamic Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*