The purpose of this project was to explore the role of the medial thalamus (MT), including the medial dorsal thalamus (MD) and associated midline nuclei in pain processing. Experiment 1 explored the role of electrolytic lesions to the MT in the formalin test. It was hypothesized that animals with electrolytic lesions to the MT would have attenuated paw licking behavior during the second phase of the formalin tests as compared to sham lesion controls. This hypothesis was based on evidence of projections from the MD to the ACC, and previous research demonstrating attenuation of paw licking behavior in the second phase of the formalin test in animals with ACC lesions. Experiment 2 tested the effects of electrolytic MT lesions on mechanical paw withdrawal thresholds in the L5 nerve ligation model. It was hypothesized that lesions of the MT would not alter mechanical paw withdrawal thresholds. Experiment 3 tested the effects of electrolytic MT lesions on escape/avoidance behavior in the place escape avoidance paradigm. For experiment 1, animals with MT lesions were found to have slightly elevated paw licking behavior, but only across two time points. No differences in mechanical paw withdrawal thresholds and in escape/avoidance behavior were detected as compared to the sham lesion group. These results indicate a limited role for the medial thalamic nuclei in coding for pain intensity and the affective dimension of pain. Additional research is needed to explore the role of individual medial nuclei in pain processing.
- Electrolytic lesion
- Formalin test
- L5 Ligation
- Mechanical paw withdrawal thresholds
- Medial thalamus
- Place escape/avoidance paradigm