Connections ascending to the thalamus. Contrary to classical opinion, all thalamic nuclei receive extrathalamic afferents. Segregation or convergence within a topographically defined nucleus represent two modalities of thalamic afferents. In addition, certain topographically organized thalamic afferents possess "privileged" or primary "targets" in the thalamic nucleus while others possess supplementary "targets" in other thalamic nuclei (see cerebellar, pallidal and spinothalamic projections). Ascending connections from several brain stem structures can converge on the same nucleus or diverge to several thalamic nuclei. Thalamic connections with the telencephalon. Methods for determining axonal transport have demonstrated that all thalamic nuclei, with the exception of the reticular nucleus and the ventral part of the lateral geniculate body, project towards the cerebral cortex. Four nuclear complexes can be recognized in the cat as a function of the different modalities of localization, concentration and lamination of the projections towards the cortex and the central grey nuclei. In general, the thalamocortical connections have reciprocal ipsilateral corticothalamic projections originating in the infragranular layers of the cerebral cortex. The reticular nucleus and the ventral part of the lateral geniculate body, which is not projected to the cerebral cortex, are exceptions. Each cortical area receives a "privileged" connection from a thalamic nucleus and a supplementary connection- from one or several other thalamic nuclei. The "privileged" connections usually pass to the fourth and third layers of the neocortex, and sometimes also to the first layer. In contrast, the supplementary connections pass to different superficial or deep cortical layers. Each nucleus is formed of subunits which possess different hodologic and topographic characteristics as a function of the nucleus considered. Convergence or divergence of thalamocortical and corticothalamic projections on the different thalamic nuclei, as well as the laminar distribution of efferents in the cerebral cortex, are related strictly to the hodologic organization of different cellular subunits constituting the nuclei. Concentration or diffusion of thalamic projections on cerebral cortex is related more to the single or multiple projection of cell populations belonging to a thalamic nucleus than to widespread collateralization of thalamocortical axons.
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