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Deep brain stimulation of the ventral midline thalamus to boost memory vividness over time

The mammalian thalamus is involved in multiple functional neural circuits including consciousness, sleep and memory formation. Although usually linked to hippocampal damage, severe amnesia may also result from thalamic stroke or neurodegeneration.

Memory formation requires interaction between the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However, there are no direct circuits returning to the hippocampus from the mPFC. Two nuclei of the ventral midline thalamus, the Nucleus rhombus and Nucleus reuniens, have direct reciprocal connections with both structures.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus, subthalamic nucleus and/or globus pallidus is an established treatment in Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and essential tremor. The extension of DBS to other neurological diseases, including depression, is currently under investigation with promising results.

This project will focus on the interplay between the ventral midline nuclei rhombus and reuniens and memory functions, which are dependent on connections to the hippocampus and mPFC. Our hypothesis is that the precision or/and vividness over time of recent memory traces will be differentially affected by DBS to the Nucleus rhombus/reuniens. We will also collect and analyze the cross-frequency coupling of brain wave oscillations. Knowledge gained from this study may provide a platform for recovery of function approaches in humans suffering amnesia as a consequence of e.g., stroke or neurodegenerative diseases.

HofmannCassel Gruppe



Prof. Jean-Christophe Cassel

Université de Strasbourg
Professor of Neuroscience, Director of the Laboratory for Cognitive and Adaptive Neuroscience (LNCA)

Prof. Ulrich Hofmann

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Department of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center Freiburg

Dr. Richard Pinell

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Professor of Neuroscience, Director of the Laboratory for Cognitive and Adaptive Neuroscience (LNCA)