The claustrum: Considerations regarding its anatomy, functions and a programme for research
Christopher M. Dillingham, Maciej M. Jankowski, Ruchi Chandra, Bethany E. Frost and Shane M. O’Mara
The claustrum is a highly conserved but enigmatic structure, with connections to the entire cortical mantle, as well as to an extended and extensive range of heterogeneous subcortical structures. Indeed, the human claustrum is thought to have the highest number of connections per millimetre cubed of any other brain region. While there have been relatively few functional investigations of the claustrum, many theoretical suggestions have been put forward, including speculation that it plays a key role in the generation of consciousness in the mammalian brain. Other claims have been more circumspect, suggesting that the claustrum has a particular role in, for example, orchestrating cortical activity, spatial information processing or decision making. Here, we selectively review certain key recent anatomical, electrophysiological and behavioural experimental advances in claustral research and present evidence that calls for a reassessment of its anatomical boundaries in the rodent. We conclude with some open questions for future research.
Claustrum, subcortical, function, consciousness, anatomical connections