A thalamocortical circuit for updating action-outcome associations
Elife. 2019-04-23; 8:
The ability to flexibly use knowledge is one cardinal feature of goal-directed behaviors. We recently showed that thalamocortical and corticothalamic pathways connecting the medial prefrontal cortex and the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) contribute to adaptive decision-making (Alcaraz et al., 2018). In this study, we examined the impact of disconnecting the MD from its other main cortical target, the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in a task assessing outcome devaluation after initial instrumental training and after reversal of action-outcome contingencies. Crossed MD and OFC lesions did not impair instrumental performance. Using the same approach, we found however that disconnecting the OFC from its other main thalamic afferent, the submedius nucleus, produced a specific impairment in adaptive responding following action-outcome reversal. Altogether, this suggests that multiple thalamocortical circuits may act synergistically to achieve behaviorally relevant functions.