Development of the thalamus: From early patterning to regulation of cortical functions

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Abstract

The thalamus is a brain structure of the vertebrate diencephalon that plays a central role in regulating diverse functions of the cerebral cortex. In traditional view of vertebrate neuroanatomy, the thalamus includes three regions, dorsal thalamus, ventral thalamus, and epithalamus. Recent molecular embryological studies have redefined the thalamus and the associated axial nomenclature of the diencephalon in the context of forebrain patterning. This new view has provided a useful conceptual framework for studies on molecular mechanisms of patterning, neurogenesis and fate specification in the thalamus as well as the guidance mechanisms for thalamocortical axons. Additionally, the availability of genetic tools in mice has led to important findings on how thalamic development is linked to the development of other brain regions, particularly the cerebral cortex. This article will give an overview of the organization of the embryonic thalamus and how progenitor cells in the thalamus generate neurons that are organized into discrete nuclei. I will then discuss how thalamic development is orchestrated with the development of the cerebral cortex and other brain regions. This article is categorized under: Nervous System Development > Vertebrates: Regional Development Nervous System Development > Vertebrates: General Principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere345
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Academic Health Center, University of Minnesota; Brain and Behavior Research Foundation; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant/Award Number: 1R21HD086820; National Institute of Mental Health, Grant/Award Number: R21 MH105759; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Grant/Award Number: R01 NS049357; Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Grant; Whitehall Foundation

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords

  • neocortex
  • thalamocortical projections
  • thalamus

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