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Surgery of the motor thalamus: Problems with the present nomenclatures



The literature on thalamic surgery is difficult to read because different nomenclatures are in use. Neurosurgeons mostly use the stereotactic atlas of Schaltenbrand with Hassler's nomenclature of the thalamus. Neuroanatomists use different nomenclatures for the primate thalamus. The cytoarchitectonic definition of nuclei is difficult in the motor thalamus, and it would be best to define the nuclei based on their subcortical afferents. However, tracing studies are not available in humans. Thus, human thalamic nomenclature is based entirely on cytoarchitectonic subdivisions and transfer of knowledge by analogy from monkey to man. Problems arise when trying to transfer the detailed knowledge from monkey to the human brain. By doing so, different authors have come to different conclusions concerning the subcortical afferents of Hassler's motor nuclei, which inevitably leads to confusion when attempting neurophysiological interpretations of the surgical data. The present review draws attention to the discrepancies and open questions in the literature. There is a need to better define the limits of the sensory and cerebellar afferent receiving thalamic nuclei as well as those of the cerebellar and pallidal afferent receiving territories in humans. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society