Region-selective control of the thalamic reticular nucleus via cortical layer 5 pyramidal cells

Nat Neurosci. 2023 Jan;26(1):116-130. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01217-z. Epub 2022 Dec 22.


Corticothalamic pathways, responsible for the top-down control of the thalamus, have a canonical organization such that every cortical region sends output from both layer 6 (L6) and layer 5 (L5) to the thalamus. Here we demonstrate a qualitative, region-specific difference in the organization of mouse corticothalamic pathways. Specifically, L5 pyramidal cells of the frontal cortex, but not other cortical regions, establish monosynaptic connections with the inhibitory thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN). The frontal L5-TRN pathway parallels the L6-TRN projection but has distinct morphological and physiological features. The exact spike output of the L5-contacted TRN cells correlated with the level of cortical synchrony. Optogenetic perturbation of the L5-TRN connection disrupted the tight link between cortical and TRN activity. L5-driven TRN cells innervated thalamic nuclei involved in the control of frontal cortex activity. Our data show that frontal cortex functions require a highly specialized cortical control over intrathalamic inhibitory processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Mice
  • Pyramidal Cells
  • Thalamic Nuclei* / physiology
  • Thalamus* / physiology

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.21395547