The mystery of claustral neural circuits and recent updates on its role in neurodegenerative pathology

Behav Brain Funct. 2021 Jul 7;17(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12993-021-00181-1.


Introduction: The claustrum is a structure involved in formation of several cortical and subcortical neural microcircuits which may be involved in such functions as conscious sensations and rewarding behavior. The claustrum is regarded as a multi-modal information processing network. Pathology of the claustrum is seen in certain neurological disorders. To date, there are not enough comprehensive studies that contain accurate information regarding involvement of the claustrum in development of neurological disorders.

Objective: Our review aims to provide an update on claustrum anatomy, ontogenesis, cytoarchitecture, neural networks and their functional relation to the incidence of neurological diseases.

Materials and methods: A literature review was conducted using the Google Scholar, PubMed, NCBI MedLine, and eLibrary databases.

Results: Despite new methods that have made it possible to study the claustrum at the molecular, genetic and epigenetic levels, its functions and connectivity are still poorly understood. The anatomical location, relatively uniform cytoarchitecture, and vast network of connections suggest a divergent role of the claustrum in integration and processing of input information and formation of coherent perceptions. Several studies have shown changes in the appearance, structure and volume of the claustrum in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), autism, schizophrenia, and depressive disorders. Taking into account the structure, ontogenesis, and functions of the claustrum, this literature review offers insight into understanding the crucial role of this structure in brain function and behavior.

Keywords: Claustrum; Information processing; Neural networks; Neurodegenerative disorders; Ontogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia
  • Claustrum*
  • Cognition
  • Consciousness
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease*