The Mystery of the Claustrum

17th Sep 2018

Brain and Neuroscience Advances HeaderThere is a part of the brain that is incredibly complex yet there is little known about it: the claustrum.  

This article by Dillingham et al. (2017), published in the BNA’s journal ‘Brain and Neuroscience Advances’, discusses some possibilities of its functions in the human brain. 

The claustrum is located in the middle of the brain on both sides and can be found in all mammals. There used to be some confusion as to where the claustrum begins and ends. However, recently some genes have been identified that are specifically linked to the claustrum, called Gng2 and Gnb4, that help us determine what is and what is not part of the claustrum. 

The article states that the claustrum is connected to areas involved in memory, emotions, movement and processing sensory information (the hippocampus, amygdala, somatosensory and motor cortex respectively). This shows that the claustrum plays an important role in these processes in the brain by transferring information from one part of the brain to another.  

Moreover, activating the claustrum with electrodes caused people to become unresponsive and resulted in memory loss in some experiments, suggesting that the claustrum can be linked to loss of consciousness as well. 

Researchers now believe the claustrum not only transfers the information to different areas of the brain but also increases the strength of weaker signals. 

Altogether this shows that the claustrum may have many different important roles in the brain. More research is needed to figure out how the claustrum exactly works, but the findings so far are already very impressive.

For the full review article, click here 

Dillingham, C.M., Jankowski, M.M., Chandra, R., Frost, B.E. and O’Mara, S.M., 2017. The claustrum: Considerations regarding its anatomy, functions and a programme for research. Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 1 

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