The best way to think of the Thalamus is that it is a relay station - incoming signals go through the thalamus to the cortex and outgoing signals go through the thalamus to the motor system and other regions of the peripheral nervous system.
Now, another key thing to understand about the Thalamus is that it is not a single structure, but it is a name for a collection of nuclei, each of which is a "mini" relay station.
For example, incoming visual information from the eyes goes through the Pulvinar nucleus of the Thalamus to the Primary Visual Cortex.
Thalamic Nuclei (and their role)
Anterior Nucleus Memory and Emotion
Dorsomedial Nucleus Executive Function
Ventral Posterolateral Nucleus Relays information about pain, temperature, and touch
Ventral Posteromedial Nucleus Sensory information from the face
Ventral Anterior Nucleus. Relays information from the muscles about movement
Ventrolateral Nucleus Relays motor information
Lateral Posterior Nucleus Attention - helps prioritize sensory information
Pulvinar Nucleus Visual processing
Medial Geniculate Nucleus Processes auditory information
Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Visual processing
Reticular Nucleus Sort of controls the Thalamus as a whole - the outer layer
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