Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Choice Behavior
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Thalamus


  • The mediodorsal thalamus (MD) shares reciprocal connectivity with the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and decreased MD-PFC connectivity is observed in schizophrenia patients. Patients also display cognitive deficits including impairments in working memory, but a mechanistic link between thalamo-prefrontal circuit function and working memory is missing. Using pathway-specific inhibition, we found directional interactions between mouse MD and medial PFC (mPFC), with MD-to-mPFC supporting working memory maintenance and mPFC-to-MD supporting subsequent choice. We further identify mPFC neurons that display elevated spiking during the delay, a feature that was absent on error trials and required MD inputs for sustained maintenance. Strikingly, delay-tuned neurons had minimal overlap with spatially tuned neurons, and each mPFC population exhibited mutually exclusive dependence on MD and hippocampal inputs. These findings indicate a role for MD in sustaining prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance. Consistent with this idea, we found that enhancing MD excitability was sufficient to enhance task performance.

publication date

  • June 27, 2017



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC5501395

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nn.4568

PubMed ID

  • 28481349

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 987

end page

  • 996


  • 20


  • 7