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The Journal Of Comparative Neurology
Shibata, H;Honda, Y;
The anterior thalamic nuclei consist of the anterodorsal (AD), anteroventral, and anteromedial nuclei, each of which are highly differentiated and may contribute to different aspects of various cognitive and memory functions. In particular, the AD is unique in that it is implicated in learning at the earliest stage of discriminative avoidance conditioning in the rabbit. To better understand the functional roles played by the AD in memory and learning processes, we analyzed the organization of thalamocortical projections of the AD in the rabbit, using the anterograde tracer biotinylated dextran amine and the retrograde tracer cholera toxin subunit B. The data show that the AD provides strong projections to layers I and IV of area 30 and to layers I, III, IV, and VI of area 29 in the retrosplenial cortex, and to layers I and III-VI of the presubiculum. The projections to the retrosplenial cortex are organized such that the rostral and caudal AD, respectively, project to the caudal and rostral retrosplenial cortex. In contrast, the projections to the presubiculum are not organized topographically. Other minor projections were also observed in the parasubiculum and part of the medial entorhinal area. These results indicate that the AD provides strong projections to the retrosplenial cortex and presubiculum, suggesting that these projections constitute essential pathways to these cortical regions for transmitting mnemonic information, such as a novel conditioning stimulus during the initial stage of avoidance learning.