Subcortical circuits mediate communication between primary sensory cortical areas in mice

Nat Commun. 2021 Jun 24;12(1):3916. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24200-x.


Integration of information across the senses is critical for perception and is a common property of neurons in the cerebral cortex, where it is thought to arise primarily from corticocortical connections. Much less is known about the role of subcortical circuits in shaping the multisensory properties of cortical neurons. We show that stimulation of the whiskers causes widespread suppression of sound-evoked activity in mouse primary auditory cortex (A1). This suppression depends on the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), and is implemented through a descending circuit that links S1, via the auditory midbrain, with thalamic neurons that project to A1. Furthermore, a direct pathway from S1 has a facilitatory effect on auditory responses in higher-order thalamic nuclei that project to other brain areas. Crossmodal corticofugal projections to the auditory midbrain and thalamus therefore play a pivotal role in integrating multisensory signals and in enabling communication between different sensory cortical areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Female
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Thalamus / cytology
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins