If very briefly and quite simply, the thalamo-cortical system, like the reticular formation, is the brain structure that provides nonspecific somato-sensory transmission. What it is. This means that there are specific and non-specific ways of somatosensory transmission. Specific is when a signal from the retina of the eye goes along specific paths to the visual cortex, and from the olfactory receptors in the nasal cavity to the olfactory cortex. However, besides this, signals can go to other areas of the cortex, and they go along nonspecific pathways. Thus, for one type of signal, for example, visual, we activate not only the visual area of the cerebral cortex, but also its other parts, such as auditory, olfactory, etc.
Our wonderful course teacher neurophysiology showed us how nonspecific somatosensory pathways work with one powerful example. He was lecturing slowly, we took notes, buried in notebooks, and suddenly, for no reason at all, he banged his fist against the pulpit with all his might. Everyone jumped up, muffled little exclamations were heard across the audience. And then, laughing, when we continued to look at him, he hit again. This time, no one was scared. Because a visual signal (the teacher raises his hand to hit the chair) along nonspecific pathways came to the auditory cortex and prepared it for the fact that there will be a loud sound right now)))
I am reading just an article. I saw an unfamiliar term and went to Google. He did not find anything intelligible to me (which would be understandable to an ordinary person). I continued to read, and then there was an explanation. I share:
The thalamo-cortical system is an [...] anatomical formation that selectively connects the cushion of the thalamus with some parts of the cortex, while it is more resistant to extinction than the reticular formation. There are theories that consider this system a substrate of attention, and between attention and consciousness there is, if not an equal sign, then some similar sign. After all, everything that I feel now - both outside and inside - is covered by attention, and what is not covered by it is not realized. On the other hand, consciousness is not limited to intention, but includes at least content.