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How the human thalamus guides navigation and memory: a common coding framework built on direct thalamic recordings

Project description

Thalamic activity monitoring to unveil cognitive functions

Emerging evidence indicates that human thalamus is implicated in higher cognitive functions, such as memory formation and navigation. To address the technological limitations that have impeded the full understanding of the role of the thalamus, the EU-funded DirectThalamus project proposes to develop an oscillatory model of the neurological processing that takes place in this part of the brain. Researchers will record and modulate intracranial thalamic activity and, alongside functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from healthy subjects, they will determine how information processing in the thalamus correlates with cognitive function. Results will lay the foundation for advancing clinical and basic neuroscience research.


The thalamus is the major gateway for sensory input to the brain, and, as such, has long been thought of as a mere sensory relay station. But accumulating evidence suggests that it is crucially involved in higher cognitive functions like memory formation and navigation. However, methodological obstacles still impede full understanding of the specific role of thalamus in human cognition.
The core objective of DirectThalamus is to provide an advanced oscillatory model of subcortical processing as the neuronal basis of core cognitive functions. To this end, the project will address several key questions with the aim to identify and understand neuronal processing in the thalamus involved in human cognition: How does the human thalamus code and communicate information? And how does this contribute to spatial navigation and the formation and consolidation of memories?
Using my unique expertise in innovative methodologies, I will exploit the rare opportunity to record and modulate intracranial electrophysiological activity in the human anterior thalamus. Together with intracranial recordings from the human hippocampus and comparative fMRI data from healthy subjects, these data will be used to test and establish a common coding framework for memory and navigation, highlighting contextual information processing as fundamental thalamic function.
By directly recording and stimulating intracranial thalamic activity, DirectThalamus will provide novel and causal insight into thalamic mechanisms underlying core cognitive functions. The project will thereby push the boundaries of the state of the art in cognitive neuroscience towards a comprehensive understanding of cognition. Expanding the prevalent corticocentric focus on cognition to subcortical contributions will inspire new lines of research in fundamental and clinical neuroscience.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 914,00
Geschwister scholl platz 1
80539 Muenchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)