A Thalamic Reticular Circuit for Head Direction Cell Tuning and Spatial Navigation

Cell Rep. 2020 Jun 9;31(10):107747. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107747.


As we navigate in space, external landmarks and internal information guide our movement. Circuit and synaptic mechanisms that integrate these cues with head-direction (HD) signals remain, however, unclear. We identify an excitatory synaptic projection from the presubiculum (PreS) and the multisensory-associative retrosplenial cortex (RSC) to the anterodorsal thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), so far classically implied in gating sensory information flow. In vitro, projections to TRN involve AMPA/NMDA-type glutamate receptors that initiate TRN cell burst discharge and feedforward inhibition of anterior thalamic nuclei. In vivo, chemogenetic anterodorsal TRN inhibition modulates PreS/RSC-induced anterior thalamic firing dynamics, broadens the tuning of thalamic HD cells, and leads to preferential use of allo- over egocentric search strategies in the Morris water maze. TRN-dependent thalamic inhibition is thus an integral part of limbic navigational circuits wherein it coordinates external sensory and internal HD signals to regulate the choice of search strategies during spatial navigation.

Keywords: allocentric; anterior thalamus; burst discharge; chemogenetics; egocentric; optogenetics; perseverance; presubiculum; retrosplenial cortex; synaptic inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Head / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*