Robert Vertes


  • Professor
  • Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences & Department of Psychology
  • 561-297-2362
  • Boca Raton - Behavioral Sciences BS-12, Room 521


  • Ph.D., The New School, NY, NY

Research Interests


  • Role of the midline thalamus in learning and memory & affective behavior
  • Anatomy of the brainstem and limbic thalamus
  • Subcortical systems modulating the hippocampus, with a concentration on nucleus reuniens (RE) and the supramammillary nucleus (SUM) of the hypothalamus
  • Ascending brainstem-diencephalic-septohippocampal systems controlling states of the hippocampal EEG, theta and non-theta states
  • Functional interactions between the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the ventral midline thalamus
  • Anatomy and function of serotonergic systems of the brainstem, with specific attention to the median raphe nucleus
  • Role of the brainstem and midline thalamus in sleep/wake control, concentrating on the discharge properties of cells of nucleus reuniens and the paratenial nucleus during sleep/waking states in behaving rats
  • Function of sleep (NREM and REM), dispelling the hypothesis that sleep serves any role in the processing and consolidation of memories


Research Description

Early research of the lab centered on the description of ascending brainstem-diencephalic-septohippocampal systems responsible for controlling of states of the hippocampal EEG, principally the theta rhythm, and the functional significance of theta. We defined a complex circuitry involved in the generation of theta and non-theta states of the hippocampus, with direct relevance to memory-associated functions of the hippocampus. In recent years, we have focused on an examination of the anatomical, physiological and behavioral properties of nuclei of the midline thalamus, particularly the nucleus reuniens (RE). The nucleus reuniens is intimately interconnected with limbic cortical systems, foremost with the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Nucleus reuniens serves as a critical anatomical/functional bridge between the hippocampus and mPFC, directly involved in functions associated with both structures. Having defined the anatomical circuitry of nucleus reuniens (and other nuclei of the midline thalamus), we have recently demonstrated, in a series of behavioral studies, a critical role for RE in affective behavior, spatial working memory and executive functions. Further, we described a subset of cells of nucleus reuniens that discharge selectively in waking and REM sleep in behaving rats which appear to serve as an “attentional signal” to the hippocampus, in learning and memory. A current focus, using wide-ranging techniques including novel Cre+ rat strains, involves an examination of serotonergic effects on the limbic thalamus in affect and cognition.

Recent Publications


Viena, T.D., Vertes, R.P. and Linley, S.B. Discharge characteristics of neurons of nucleus reuniens across sleep-wake states in the behaving rat. Behav. Brain Res. 410:113325, 2021.   

Vertes, R.P., Linley, S.B. and Viena, T.D. Nucleus reuniens: circuitry, function and dysfunction. In: Electrophysiological Recording Techniques, 2nd ed, Vertes R.P. and Allen T.A. (Eds.), Humana Press, New York, in press.  

Linley, S.B., Athanason, A.C., Rojas, A.K.P. and Vertes, R.P. Role of the reuniens and rhomboid thalamic nuclei in anxiety-like avoidance behaviors in the rat. Hippocampus 31:756-769, 2021.    

Vertes, R.P. and Linley. S.B. Structural and functional organization of the midline and intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus. In: The Thalamus, Halassa, M. (Ed), Cambridge University Press, New York, in press.

Vertes, R.P. and Linley S.B. No cognitive processing in the unconscious, anesthetic-like, state of sleep. J. Comp. Neurol. 529:524-538, 2021.

Vertes, R.P. and Linley, S.B. Serotonergic regulation of hippocampal rhythmical activity. In:  Handbook of the Behavioral Neurobiology of Serotonin, 2nd ed, Vol. 31, Muller C.P. and Cunningham, K.A. (Eds), Academic Press, London, p. 337-360, 2020.

Dolleman-van der Weel, M.J., Griffin, A.L., Ito, H.T., Shapiro, M.L., Witter, M.P., Vertes, R.P. and Allen, T.A. The nucleus reuniens of the thalamus sits at the nexus of a hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex circuit enabling memory and behavior. Learn Memory 26:191-205, 2019.

Jayachandran M, Linley, S.B., Schlecht, M., Mahler, S.V., Vertes, R.P, and Allen. T.A. Prefrontal pathways provide top-down control of memory for sequences of events. Cell Reports 28:640-654, 2019.

Linley, S.B. and Vertes, R.P. Serotonergic systems in sleep and waking. In: Handbook of Sleep Research, Vol. 30, Dringenberg, H.C. (Ed.), Elsevier, New York, 2019, pp. 101-124.  

Viena, T.D., Linley, S.B. and Vertes, R.P. Inactivation of nucleus reuniens impairs spatial working memory and behavioral flexibility in the rat. Hippocampus 28:297-311, 2018.

Linley, S.B., Olucha-Bordonau, F, and Vertes, R.P. Pattern of distribution of serotonergic fibers to the amygdala and extended amygdala in the rat. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:116-139, 2017.

Linley, S.B., Gallo, M.M., and Vertes, R.P. Lesions of the ventral midline thalamus produce deficits in reversal learning and attention on an odor texture set shifting task. Brain Res. 1649: 110-122, 2016.

Vertes, R.P. Major diencephalic inputs to the hippocampus: supramammillary nucleus and nucleus reuniens. Circuitry and function. Prog. Brain Res. 219:121-144, 2015.

Vertes, R.P., Linley, S.B., Hoover, W.B. Limbic circuitry of the midline thalamus. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 54:89-107, 2015.

Vertes, R.P., Linley, S.B., Groenewegen, H.J. and Witter, M.P. Thalamus. In: The Rat Nervous System, 4th ed. (Paxinos, G., ed), San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 335-390, 2015.

Mitchell, A.S., Sherman, S.M., Sommer, M.A., Mair, R.G., Vertes, R.P. and Chudasama, Y.  Advances in understanding mechanisms of thalamic relays in cognition and behavior. J. Neurosci. 34: 15340-15346, 2014.

Linley, S.B., Hoover, W.B. and Vertes, R.P. Pattern of distribution of serotonergic fibers to the obitomedial and insular cortex in the rat. J. Chem. Neuroanat. 48: 29-45, 2013.

Cassel, J.C., Pereira de Vasconccelos, A., Loureiro, M., Cholvin, T., Dalrymple-Alford, J. and Vertes, R.P.  The reuniens and rhomboid nuclei: neuroanatomy, electrophysiological characteristics and behavioral implications. Prog. Neurobiol. 111: 34-52, 2013.

Zhang, Y., Buonanno, A., Vertes, R.P., Hoover, W.B., and Lisman, J.E. NR2C in the thalamic reticular nucleus: effects of the NR2C knockout. PLoS One 7: e41908, 2012

Vertes, R.P., Hoover, W.B. and Rodriguez, J.J. Projections of the central medial nucleus of the thalamus: node in cortical, striatal and limbic forebrain circuitry. Neuroscience 219: 120-136, 2012.

Hoover, W.B. and Vertes, R.P. Collateral projections from nucleus reuniens of thalamus to hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex in the rat: a single and double retrograde fluorescent labeling study. Brain Struct. Funct. 217: 191-209, 2012


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