Xiaolin Liu1, Jingsheng Zhou2, Anthony G. Hudetz3, Shi-Jiang Li1
1Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, United States; 2Rehabilitation Department, Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University, Beijing, China; 3Anesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, United States
Understanding the neural mechanisms of consciousness requires identification of the nature of contributions from each of the potential neural correlates, which together generate a complete cognitive experience. We examined the specific and nonspecific thalamic connections in the brain based on the neuroanatomical findings implicating their respective functional roles in sustaining information and integration, which are essential to consciousness. Our results endorse the view that the thalamocortical system is essential to consciousness, and support the hypothesis that the nonspecific thalamic connections largely reflect brain regions that are responsible for information integration, potentially sustaining various awareness functions.