Mediodorsal and Ventromedial Thalamus Engage Distinct L1 Circuits in the Prefrontal Cortex

Paul G. Anastasiades, David P. Collins, Adam G. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interactions between the thalamus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) play a critical role in cognitive function and arousal. Here, we use anatomical tracing, electrophysiology, optogenetics, and 2-photon Ca2+ imaging to determine how ventromedial (VM) and mediodorsal (MD) thalamus target specific cell types and subcellular compartments in layer 1 (L1) of mouse PFC. We find thalamic inputs make distinct connections in L1, where VM engages neuron-derived neurotrophic factor (NDNF+) cells in L1a and MD drives vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP+) cells in L1b. These separate populations of L1 interneurons participate in different inhibitory networks in superficial layers by targeting either parvalbumin (PV+) or somatostatin (SOM+) interneurons. NDNF+ cells also inhibit the apical dendrites of L5 pyramidal tract (PT) cells to suppress action potential (AP)-evoked Ca2+ signals. Lastly, NDNF+ cells mediate a unique form of thalamus-evoked inhibition at PT cells, selectively blocking VM-evoked dendritic Ca2+ spikes. Together, our findings reveal how two thalamic nuclei differentially communicate with the PFC through distinct L1 micro-circuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-330.e4
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021


  • Ca2+ Signals
  • Circuits
  • Cortex
  • Dendrites
  • Inhibition
  • Interneurons
  • Layer 1
  • Prefrontal
  • Projection Neurons
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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