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Keywords:

  • subdivisions of motor thalamus;
  • ultrastructure;
  • neuronal circuits;
  • 3D reconstruction

Abstract

The ventral region of the motor thalamus that receives cerebellar afferents has been and still is the target of stereotactic interventions for movement disorders. According to Hassler, this area includes ventro-oralis posterior (Vop) and ventral intermedius (Vim) nuclei, although some investigators believe that Vop is associated with the pallidothalamic pathway. We sought to correlate our experimental data on distribution of nigral, pallidal, and cerebellar afferents to the monkey thalamus with Hassler's motor thalamic parcelations. We concluded that Hassler's parcelations retained their value, although some adjustments were needed to relate them to the current neuroanatomic data; particularly, the cerebellothalamic zone that represents the monkey ventral lateral nucleus (VL) corresponds topographically to Hassler's Vop, Vim, and most of Voi. Electron microscopic tracing studies have shown very complex circuitry in this region of the monkey thalamus, as the cerebellar and cortical afferents innervating it are engaged in complex synapses with thalamocortical projection neurons, and this interaction is strongly modulated by local circuit neurons and the input from the reticular thalamic nucleus, which are both inhibitory and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic. Spinothalamic afferents also reach the VL, but this input is less studied in the monkey. The circuitry subserving the activity of thalamocortical projection neurons in the VL should be considered while interpreting the functional data obtained in stereotactic surgery. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society