The Claustrum

The Claustrum

Structural, Functional, and Clinical Neuroscience

1st Edition - November 11, 2013

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  • Editors: John Smythies, Lawrence Edelstein, Vilayanur Ramachandran
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124047228
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124045668

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The present day is witnessing an explosion of our understanding of how the brain works at all levels, in which complexity is piled on complexity, and mechanisms of astonishing elegance are being continually discovered. This process is most developed in the major areas of the brain, such as the cortex, thalamus, and striatum. The Claustrum instead focuses on a small, remote, and, until recently, relatively unknown area of the brain. In recent years, researchers have come to believe that the claustrum is concerned with consciousness, a bold hypothesis supported by the claustrum’s two-way connections with nearly every other region of the brain and its seeming involvement with multisensory integrations—the hallmark of consciousness. The claustrum, previously in a humble position at the back of the stage, might in fact be the conductor of the brain’s orchestra. The Claustrum brings together leading experts on the claustrum from the varied disciplines of neuroscience, providing a state-of-the-art presentation of what is currently known about the claustrum, promising lines of current research (including epigenetics), and projections of new lines of investigation on the horizon.

Key Features

  • Develops a unifying hypothesis about the claustrum’s role in consciousness, as well as the integration of sensory information and other higher brain functions
  • Discusses the involvement of the claustrum with autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Coverage of all aspects of the claustrum, from its evolution and development to promising new lines of research, including epigenetics, provides a platform and point of reference for future investigative efforts


Researchers and advanced students in neuroscience, neurology, neuropsychiatry, and neuropsychology

Table of Contents

  • List of Contributors



    Lawrence (‘Larry’) Edelstein

    Vilayanur (‘Rama’) Ramachandran

    John Smythies

    Chapter 1. History of the Study and Nomenclature of the Claustrum

    The First Era: 1780–1820

    The Second Era: 1820–1870

    The Third Era: 1870–1950

    The Fourth Era: 1950–2000

    The Fifth Era: 2000–INTO the Future



    Chapter 2. The Structure and Connections of the Claustrum


    Structure of the Claustrum

    Distribution of Neurochemicals

    Afferent Connections of the Claustrum

    Efferent Connections of the Claustrum

    Projections of the Ventral Claustrum (Endopiriform Nucleus)

    Discussion and Conclusions


    Chapter 3. The Neurochemical Organization of the Claustrum


    The Claustrum: Basic Organization

    Multiple Cortical Maps and the Organization of the Claustrum

    What Does the Claustrum Contribute to Information Processing in the Cerebral Cortex? Studies of the Visual Claustrum

    Neurochemistry of the Claustrum

    Implications of Multiple Neurochemically Defined Cell Types for Intraclaustral Processing


    Summary: Neurochemistry and the Functions of the Claustrum


    Chapter 4. Development and Evolution of the Claustrum


    Research Antecedents

    The Apparent Lack of a Claustrum in Monotremes

    The Advent of Molecular Markers

    Recent Genoarchitectonic Analysis of Claustrum Development and its Radial Topology Supports a Relationship with the Insula

    Discussion of these Results

    A Glance at the Emerging Evolutionary Scenario


    Chapter 5. Physiology of the Claustrum




    Action of Claustral Efferents on Cortex

    Hypotheses of Claustral Function


    Chapter 6. Neurocomputation and Coding in the Claustrum: Comparisons with the Pulvinar

    The Binding Problem in Perception

    Possible Computational Solutions for the Binding Problem

    Possible Neural Substrates for an Assembly Conductor

    Relevant Empirical Data from Electrophysiology

    Relevant Empirical Data from Psychopharmacology

    Testable Predictions and Future Directions



    Chapter 7. Structural and Functional Connectivity of the Claustrum in the Human Brain


    Macroscopic and White Matter Anatomy of the Human Claustrum

    Connectivity of the Claustrum: Animal Studies

    Functional MRI Studies of the Human Claustrum

    Diffusion MRI Studies of the Human Claustrum



    Chapter 8. Delayed Development of the Claustrum in Autism

    Autism Clinical Diagnosis and Prevalence

    Autism Neuropathology

    Claustrum Connectivity

    Claustrum Functioning in Normal and Pathological Conditions

    Variations in the Claustrum Associated With Autism

    Number of Neurons in the Claustrum

    Theories of Autism and the Role of the Claustrum in Autism


    Chapter 9. The Claustrum in Schizophrenia


    Severity of Delusions in Relation to Grey Matter Volume


    Chapter 10. Clinical Relations: Epilepsy



    Relation Between Claustrum Physiology and Seizures

    Summary and Interpretation



    Chapter 11. The Claustrum and Alzheimer’s Disease


    Claustral Connections and Alzheimer’s Disease

    Cholinergic Pathways and the Claustrum


    The Claustrum and Network Connectivity in AD

    Cognition and the Claustrum in AD

    Conclusion and Future Directions



    Chapter 12. Parkinson’s Disease and the Claustrum


    The Variable Clinical Picture of Parkinson’s Disease

    Neuropathology of Parkinson’s Disease

    Claustral Pathology in Parkinson’s Disease




    Chapter 13. Hypotheses Relating to the Function of the Claustrum


    Our Hypothesis

    Further Data on the Role of the Claustrum in Synchronized Oscillations and Modification of our Hypothesis

    Our Hypothesis at Three Levels

    Clinical Evidence for Binding

    The Role of the Claustrum in Cognitive Processing

    The Saliency Detection Hypothesis

    Advantages of our Hypothesis

    Problems With the Hypothesis?

    Experiments to Test Our Hypothesis




    Chapter 14. What is it to be Conscious?

    How Did We Come to Reify the Self and to Refer to Consciousness?

    Are the Questions that are then Thought to Follow from this Real Ones?

    Do We Need to Identify a Region of the Brain Where it All “Comes Together”?

    If We Regard Consciousness as a Process, Does that Commit Us to Epiphenomenalism?




    Chapter 15. Selected Key Areas for Future Research on the Claustrum

    Immediate-Early Genes in the Claustrum

    Are there Memory Mechanisms in the Claustrum?

    Epigenetic Codes in the Claustrum

    Producing Aclaustral Animals Via Molecular Neurosurgery



Product details

  • No. of pages: 408
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2014
  • Published: November 11, 2013
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124047228
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124045668

About the Editors

John Smythies

John Smythies is a neuropsychiatrist and neuroscientist and has made significant contributions to both these disciplines. Together with Humphrey Osmond he developed the first biochemical theory of schizophrenia—the transmethylation hypothesis. This has recently come back into focus following the finding that DNA methylation is abnormal in schizophrenia. He has made extensive contributions to knowledge in a number of fields including the neuropharmacology of psychedelic drugs; the functional neuroanatomy of synapses with particular regard to the role of synaptic plasticity, endocytosis and redox factors ; the role in the brain of orthoquinone metabolites of catecholamines; and, in particular, theories of brain-consciousness relations. More recently he has worked on epigenetic processes in information processing in the brain, and the functional neuroanatomy of the claustrum. Smythies has served as President of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology from 1970-1974, Consultant to the World Health Organization from 1963-1968, and Editor of the International Review of Neurobiology from 1958-1991. He was elected a member of the Athenaeum in 1968. He has published over 240 scientific papers and sixteen books. Smythies has held positions as the Charles Byron Ireland Professor of Psychiatric Research at the University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham, Visiting Scholar at the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California San Diego, and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Neurology, University College London.

Affiliations and Expertise

Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, USA

Lawrence Edelstein

Lawrence Edelstein

Spring semester 1974, State University of New York at Stony Brook, “Introduction to Physiological Psychology,” Professor John Stamm (mentor and frontal lobe physiologist par excellence). “Essentials of Physiological Psychology,” by Sebastian P. Grossman. As a significant percentage of our final grade, we were tasked with submitting a term paper on the brain structure of our choosing, to be selected from those mentioned in our textbook. Owing to an already burdensome semester with numerous finals in the air, I immediately went to work looking for that part of the brain to which was paid the least attention, in essence, the Rodney Dangerfield of the CNS. Hippocampus? Fuhgeddaboudit. Amygdala? Fight or flight; I chose the latter. Claustrum – function unknown; barely made the index. Clearly, it got no respect. The seed was planted, eventually sprouting into a doctoral thesis: “The anatomy of the claustrum: A light and electron-microscopic analysis in rat and monkey incorporating the technique of HRP cytochemistry.”

I moved to San Diego in late 2001, the claustrum something I once dabbled with in the distant past. Cut to September 27, 2004 and the live-streamed public memorial held at The Salk Institute for Francis Crick. Although I was long into a new career and deskbound at the time, I felt the need to somehow be a part of this event, if only as a virtual observer. Thick with notables, Nobelists (and those to be) and molecular biology, I watched and listened with rapt attention as V.S. Ramachandran took the podium and proceeded to eloquently honor a close friend and esteemed colleague. Somewhere in the middle of his tribute I learned of Francis’ interest in the claustrum, at which point my jaw dropped rather precipitously, and a few choice unmentionables were uttered upon return to its normal position. A comprehensive review paper followed shortly thereafter, co-authored with my long-time friend and fellow claustrophile, Professor Frank Denaro. For some time prior to his passing, Francis Crick, along with his brilliant Caltech colleague-in-arms, Christof Koch, had honed in on the very same slab of grey matter as I did thirty years prior, and found it to be as salient a stimulus, with mysteries yet to be revealed.

Nearly forty years on, I’m still working on that term paper. However, thanks to Francis, Christof, my fortuitously catching that live-stream, and subsequently befriending my esteemed UCSD colleagues John Smythies and Rama, I can safely say that I chose wisely. And the title of what was fated to be Francis’ final publication? “What is the function of the claustrum?”

Dr. Edelstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Claustrum, a peer-reviewed, open access journal, conceived as a nexus for all things pertaining to the claustrum. For more info, visit

Affiliations and Expertise

Medimark Corporation, Del Mar, CA

Vilayanur Ramachandran

Vilayanur Ramachandran

V. S. Ramachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Distinguished Professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. Ramachandran initially trained as a doctor and subsequently obtained a Ph.D. from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. Ramachandran's early work was on visual perception but he is best known for his experiments in behavioral neurology which, despite their apparent simplicity, have had a profound impact on the way we think about the brain. He has been called "The Marco Polo of neuroscience" by Richard Dawkins and "The modern Paul Broca" by Eric Kandel.

In 2005 he was awarded the Henry Dale Medal and elected to an honorary life membership by the Royal Institution of Great Britain, where he also gave a Friday evening discourse (joining the ranks of Michael Faraday, Thomas Huxley, Humphry Davy, and dozens of Nobel Laureates). His other honors and awards include fellowships from All Souls College, Oxford, and from Stanford University (Hilgard Visiting Professor); the Presidential Lecture Award from the American Academy of Neurology, two honorary doctorates, the annual Ramon Y Cajal award from the International Neuropsychiatry Society, and the Ariens-Kappers medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2003 he gave the annual BBC Reith lectures and was the first physician/psychologist to give the lectures since they were begun by Bertrand Russel in 1949. In 1995 he gave the Decade of the Brain lecture at the 25th annual (Silver Jubilee) meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. In 2010 he delivered the annual Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture in New Delhi, India. Most recently the President of India conferred on him the second highest civilian award and honorific title in India, the Padma Bhushan. And TIME magazine named him on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.

Ramachandran has published over 180 papers in scientific journals (including five invited review articles in the Scientific American). He is author of the acclaimed book "Phantoms in the Brain" that has been translated into nine languages and formed the basis for a two part series on Channel Four TV (UK) and a 1 hour PBS special in USA. NEWSWEEK magazine has named him a member of "The Century Club" one of the "hundred most prominent people to watch in the next century." He has been profiled in the New Yorker Magazine and appeared on the Charlie Rose Show. His book, "The Tell Tale Brain" is a New York Times best-seller.

Affiliations and Expertise

Director, Center for Brain and Cognition, and Professor, Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program, University of California, San Diego; Adjunct Professor of Biology, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, CA, USA

Ratings and Reviews

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  • Carla P. Thu Feb 21 2019

    An excellent and promising book

    The Claustrum is a perfectly well structured and organized book with an abundance of information for those who seek to increase their knowledge of such structure. It is phrased in a way that is accessible and attractive to the reader, while having an unbiased delivery of precise material. Images are widely provided, aiding the reader with his understanding of the topics explained. Furthermore, the philosophical approach of the last chapters harmonizes the book, preventing a merely empirical approach.