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Engagement of Pulvino-cortical Feedforward and Feedback Pathways in Cognitive Computations

Engagement of Pulvino-cortical Feedforward and Feedback Pathways in Cognitive Computations

Neuron 101(2): 321-336.E9

Computational modeling of brain mechanisms of cognition has largely focused on the cortex, but recent experiments have shown that higher-order nuclei of the thalamus participate in major cognitive functions and are implicated in psychiatric disorders. Here, we show that a pulvino-cortical circuit model, composed of the pulvinar and two cortical areas, captures several physiological and behavioral observations related to the macaque pulvinar. Effective connections between the two cortical areas are gated by the pulvinar, allowing the pulvinar to shift the operation regime of these areas during attentional processing and working memory and resolve conflict in decision making. Furthermore, cortico-pulvinar projections that engage the thalamic reticular nucleus enable the pulvinar to estimate decision confidence. Finally, feedforward and feedback pulvino-cortical pathways participate in frequency-dependent inter-areal interactions that modify the relative hierarchical positions of cortical areas. Overall, our model suggests that the pulvinar provides crucial contextual modulation to cortical computations associated with cognition.

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Accession: 066010256

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PMID: 30553546

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.11.023

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