Central thalamic electrical stimulation has been proposed as a method for remediation of acquired cognitive disability. Longstanding experimental and clinical observations indicate a key role for neurons within the central thalamus in maintaining the alert waking state and facilitating attended behaviors. Here, we show that continuous high frequency (100 Hz) electrical stimulation of the central thalamus generates widespread cortical activation of c-fos across all cortical layers and a selective pattern of regulation of zif268 within the supragranular, granular, and infragranular cortical laminae. Significant elevation of both immediate early genes also is seen in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Use of the same stimulation parameters is shown to facilitate untrained goal-directed seeking behavior and object recognition memory in rodents. An overall increase of exploratory motor behaviors and grooming activity also is observed, consistent with a global increase in arousal. Taken together, these studies indicate that electrical stimulation of the central thalamus may enhance cognitive performance through neocortical and hippocampal neuronal activation and specific regulation of gene expression.