Single midline thalamic neurons projecting to both the ventral striatum and the prefrontal cortex in the rat

Neuroscience. 1998 Sep;86(2):635-49. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(98)00062-1.


The midline thalamic nuclei have been known to send projection fibres to the ventral striatum and the autonomic/limbic-associated areas of the prefrontal cortex. In the present study, we sought to determine whether or not single midline thalamic neurons project both to the ventral striatum and to the cerebral cortical areas. Experiments were performed on chloral hydrate-anaesthetized male Sprague Dawley rats; two fluorescent retrograde tracers were centred on the medial or lateral part of the nucleus accumbens--the major part of the ventral striatum--and the medial or lateral prefrontal viscerolimbic cortex. Our retrograde double-labelling study revealed that a subset of midline thalamic neurons send projection fibres to both the nucleus accumbens and the cerebral cortex. Such neurons projecting to both targets were principally identified in the paraventricular thalamic nucleus. The majority of the dually-labelled neurons in the paraventricular thalamic nucleus projected to the lateral part of the nucleus accumbens and the medial wall of the prefrontal cortex. Dually-labelled neurons were additionally found in other midline nuclei, including the paratenial, intermediodorsal, rhomboid, and reuniens nuclei, as well as in the medial part of the parafascicular thalamic nucleus. Dually-projecting neurons identified in the present study may represent a potential link between the limbic striatum and the viscerolimbic-associated cortex, thus suggesting that non-discriminative information relayed to the prefrontal cortex might exert an influence through the same neurons on the nucleus accumbens implicated in affective behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Corpus Striatum / anatomy & histology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / anatomy & histology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / physiology