Thalamic regulation of prefrontal dynamics for cognitive control

by prof. Michael Halassa – MIT, Boston

When: June 23th, 2022 – 3:00 pm

Where: Sala Seminari, VIMM. Recording available on Mediaspace

Abstract: Interactions between the thalamus and cortex are critical for normal cognition. Although classical theories emphasize its role in transmitting signals to or between cortical areas, recent studies show that the thalamus modulates cortical function through additional mechanisms. In this talk, I will discuss findings that highlight the role of the mediodorsal (MD) thalamus in regulating prefrontal excitatory/inhibitory balance and effective connectivity during decision making. I will present recently published data showing that the MD thalamus dynamically adjusts prefrontal evidence integration according to incoming stimulus statistics. I will also present unpublished data showing how the thalamus may be a nexus for handling distinct types of task uncertainty. Given that MD-PFC interactions are known to be perturbed in schizophrenia, these findings may be relevant to suboptimal management of uncertainty that leads to aberrant beliefs. If time allows, I will present early collaborative work in that domain.