Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32620835
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41467-020-17087-7
Nat Commun 2020 Jul; 11(1): 3342
Subdivisions of mouse whisker somatosensory thalamus project to cortex in a region-specific and layer-specific manner. However, a clear anatomical dissection of these pathways and their functional properties during whisker sensation is lacking. Here, we use anterograde trans-synaptic viral vectors to identify three specific thalamic subpopulations based on their connectivity with brainstem. The principal trigeminal nucleus innervates ventral posterior medial thalamus, which conveys whisker-selective tactile information to layer 4 primary somatosensory cortex that is highly sensitive to self-initiated movements. The spinal trigeminal nucleus innervates a rostral part of the posterior medial (POm) thalamus, signaling whisker-selective sensory information, as well as decision-related information during a goal-directed behavior, to layer 4 secondary somatosensory cortex. A caudal part of the POm, which apparently does not receive brainstem input, innervates layer 1 and 5A, responding with little whisker selectivity, but showing decision-related modulation. Our results suggest the existence of complementary segregated information streams to somatosensory cortices.