The paraventricular thalamic nucleus (PVT), the main component of the dorsal thalamic midline, receives multiple inputs from the brain stem and hypothalamus, and targets the medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens and amygdala. PVT has been implicated in several functions, especially adaptation to chronic stress, addiction behaviors and reward, mood, emotion. We here focus on the wiring and neuronal properties linking PVT with circadian timing and sleep/wake regulation, and their behavioral implications. PVT is interconnected with the master circadian pacemaker, the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, receives direct and indirect photic input, is densely innervated by orexinergic neurons which play a key role in arousal and state transitions. Endowed with prominent wake-related Fos expression which is suppressed by sleep, and with intrinsic neuronal properties showing a diurnal oscillation unique in the thalamus, PVT could represent a station of interaction of thalamic and hypothalamic sleep/wake-regulatory mechanisms. PVT could thus play a strategic task by funneling into limbic and limbic-related targets circadian timing and state-dependent behavior information, tailoring it for cognitive performance and motivated behaviors.
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