The spatial representation of temperature in the thalamus

Tobias Leva, Clarissa J. Whitmire, Ilaria Sauve, Phillip Bokiniec, Charlene Memler, Bibiana M. Horn, Mikkel Vestergaard, Mario Carta and James F.A. Poulet

Although distinct thalamic nuclei encode sensory information for almost all sensory modalities, the existence of a thalamic representation of temperature is debated and the role of the thalamus in thermal perception remains unclear. To address this, we used high-density electrophysiological recordings across mouse forepaw somatosensory thalamus, and identified an anterior and a posterior representation of temperature that spans three thalamic nuclei. These parallel representations show fundamental differences in the cellular encoding of temperature that reflect their cortical output targets, with the anterior representation encoding cool only and the posterior both cool and warm. Moreover, their inactivation profoundly altered thermal perception. Together our data identifies a novel posterior thalamic representation of temperature and a principal role of the thalamus in thermal perception.


bioRxiv (2024)

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