Thalamic Connections Mnemonic

Structure of Thalamus

A vertical “Y” shaped white mater – internal medullary lamina divides thalamus into:

  1. Anterior nuclear groups
  2. Medial nuclear groups
  3. Lateral nuclear groups
thalamus structure
“Thalamus-schematic-de” by see english version is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

In anatomical position:

  • Dorsal surface of brain: faces towards sky
  • Ventral surface of brain: faces towards floor

Pulvinar = Posterior end or posterior pole of thalamus

Thalamic Connections

Picture mnemonic

Remember the schematic diagram drawn below showing important parts of thalamus in an anticlockwise fashion:

  1. Anterior nucleus
  2. Ventral nuclear group:
    • Anterior
    • Lateral
    • Posterior
      • Medial
      • Lateral
  3. Lateral and Medial geniculate body
  4. Medial-Dorsal nucleus
Thalamic connections

Now, we assign alphabets “A, B, C, D, E, F” sequentially to these important structures in anticlockwise fashion starting from anterior nucleus.

“A” for Anterior nucleus

A for:

  • Alertness
  • Attention
  • Affect
  • Acute memory

These are the functions of limbic system – Papez circuit:

  • Afferent: Mamillary body
  • Efferent: Cingulate gyrus

“B” for Ventral-anterior nucleus

B for: Basal ganglia

  • Afferent: Globus pallidus and Substantia nigra
  • Efferent: Brodmann Area 6 (Prefrontal and premotor cortex)

“C” for Ventral-lateral nucleus

C for: Co-ordination and Cerebellum

  • Afferent: Cerebellum (Dentate nucleus) and Basal ganglia
  • Efferent: Brodmann Area 4 (Primary motor cortex)

“D” for Ventral-Posterior nucleus

D for: Dermatome (Sensory)

  • Afferent:
    • Ventro-postero-medial (VPM) nucleus: Trigemino-thalamic tract, Solitario-thalamic tract
      • Medial = Mask (face)
      • Taste (Nucleus tractus solitarius)
    • Ventro-postero-lateral (VPL) nucleus:
      • Lateral = Limbs
      • Spinothalamic tract
      • Medial lemniscus
  • Efferent:
    • Brodmann Area 3, 1, 2 (Sensory cortex)

Thalamic pain syndrome: Involvement of primary somatosensory thalamic nucleus (ventral posterior lateral [VPL]/ventral posterior medial thalamus [VPM]) and the anterior pulvinar, a major spinothalamic target gives rise to thalamic pain syndrome. Approximately 25% of patients with a sensory stroke due to a thalamic lesion will develop central post-stroke pain. Thalamic pain is a severe, treatment-resistant pain syndrome. The pain is often described as burning or constrictive and is frequently accompanied by evoked pain (allodynia/hyperalgesia), paresthesias, or summation hyperpathia. 1

“E” for Geniculate Bodies

E for: Eyes and Ears

  • Lateral geniculate body = Light (Eyes)
    • Afferent: Optic tract
    • Efferent: Primary visual cortex (Area 17)
  • Medial geniculate body = Music (Ears)
    • Afferent: Inferior colliculus
    • Efferent: Primary auditory cortex (Area 41, 42)

“F” for Medial-Dorsal Nucleus

F for: Feelings (Limbic system)

  • Afferent:
    • Amygdala
    • Olfactory cortex
  • Efferent:
    • Prefrontal cortex
    • Limbic system

Thiamine deficiency in alcoholics (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) results in degeneration of the medial-dorsal nucleus of thalamus, mamillary bodies, hippocampus and vermis of cerebellum.

Other mnemonics:

  1. Lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) = Light (Visual pathway)
  2. Medial geniculate nucleus (MGN) = Music (Auditory pathway)
  3. Ventral postero-lateral nucleus (VPL) = Very Painful Limbs (Spinothalamic tract and Dorsal column)
  4. Ventral postero-medial nucleus (VPM) = Very Painful Mouth (Trigeminal and Gustatory pathway)
  5. Ventrolateral nucleus (VL) = Victory Lap (Motor)
  6. Dorsomedial nucleus (DMN) = Dog’s Memory and Nose (Memory, smell and emotions)

22 Viewpoints 💬 on “Thalamic Connections Mnemonic”

    1. Hello Renjini,
      Solitario-thalamic tract reaches VPM nucleus where the trigemino-thalamic tract reaches. Remember the tongue lies inside head and all the sensation from head are carried into VPM nucleus.
      There had been a mistake initially, it has been corrected. Thank you.

    2. Sir I appreciate and respect your beautiful efforts !!
      This topic is so tough to understand and memorize but you reduced it to “a piece of cake”.
      I am indebted to you Sir…
      God Bless You!

  1. This is very helpful to all medcal students! Thankyou very much for the contribution in making studying easier for us 🙂

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