Short-term plasticity in thalamocortical pathways: cellular mechanisms and functional roles

Rev Neurosci. 1997 Apr-Jun;8(2):95-116. doi: 10.1515/revneuro.1997.8.2.95.


Information reaches the neocortex through different types of thalamocortical pathways. These differ in many morphological and physiological properties. One interesting aspect in which thalamocortical pathways differ is in their temporal dynamics, such as their short-term plasticity. Primary pathways display frequency-dependent depression, while secondary pathways display frequency-dependent enhancement. The cellular mechanisms underlying these dynamic responses involve pre- and post-synaptic and circuit properties. They may serve to synchronize, amplify and/or filter neural activity in neocortex depending on behavioral demands, and thus to adapt each pathway to its specific function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter