Although it is customary to think of the thalamus as a relay that enables corticocortical communication, converging methods of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and optogenetics have highlighted the important contribution of the thalamus as a structure whose activities regulate cognitive behavior. This minisymposium presents an exciting array of findings that are making seminal contributions to our understanding of systems-level mechanisms affording new insight and perspectives into the so-called cognitive thalamus.
The conference will bring together experimentalists and theoreticians at all career stages, from pre- and postdoctoral fellows to assistant and full professors, to present and discuss the latest advances in our understanding of the organization, development, function, and plasticity of thalamocortical networks, and the impact of disease on thalamocortical interactions. A particular strength of the conference will be the cross talk and discussion that will be emphasized and generated between basic-science and clinical researchers studying thalamocortical interactions at different spatial and temporal scales as well as across different sensory, motor and cognitive modalities.
Understanding the circuit mechanisms of cognitive functions remain important issues in neuroscience. In particular, primate studies play an important role, providing both functional and anatomical models for the cognitive circuits in the human brain. This symposium provides recent findings on the functions of both thalamo-cortical global interactions and local interactions in the cortical microcircuits of primates, to further understand their computational principles important for cognition.