The claustrum is a brain region whose function remains unknown, though many investigators suggest it plays a role in conscious attention. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI) has revealed how anesthesia alters many functional connections in the brain, but the functional role of the claustrum with respect to the awake versus anesthetized states remains unknown. Therefore, we employed a combination of seed-based RS-fMRI and neuroanatomical tracing to reveal how the anatomical connections of the claustrum are related to its functional connectivity during quiet wakefulness and the isoflurane-induced anesthetic state. In awake rats, RS-fMRI indicates that the claustrum has interhemispheric functional connections with the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), as well as other known connections with cortical areas that correspond to the connections revealed by neuroanatomical tracing. During deep isoflurane anesthesia, the functional connections of the claustrum with mPFC and MD were significantly attenuated, while those with the rest of cortex were not significantly altered. These changes in claustral functional connectivity were also observed when seeds were placed in mPFC or MD during RS-fMRI comparisons of the awake and deeply anesthetized states. Collectively, these data indicate that the claustrum has functional connections with mPFC and MD-thalamus that are significantly lessened by anesthesia.
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