Basal Ganglia Contributions to Motor Control: a Vigorous Tutor

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Basal ganglia contributions to motor control: a vigorous tutor
Robert S Turner1 and Michel Desmurget2
The roles of the basal ganglia (BG) in motor control are much debated. Many influential hypotheses have grown from studies in which output signals of the BG were not blocked, but pathologically disturbed. A weakness of that approach is that the resulting behavioral impairments reflect degraded function of the BG per se mixed together with secondary dysfunctions of BG-recipient brain areas. To overcome that limitation, several studies have focused on the main skeletomotor output region of the BG, the globus pallidus internus (GPi). Using single-cell recording and inactivation protocols these studies provide consistent support for two hypotheses: the BG modulates movement performance (‘vigor’) according to motivational factors (i.e. context-specific cost/reward functions) and the BG contributes to motor learning. Results from these studies also add to the problems that confront theories positing that the BG selects movement, inhibits unwanted motor responses, corrects errors on-line, or stores and produces well-learned motor skills.
Addresses 1 Department of Neurobiology, Systems Neuroscience Institute and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA 2 Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, UMR5229 CNRS, 67 Blvd. Pinel, 69500 Bron, France Corresponding author: Turner, Robert S (

nor are all of the hypotheses mutually exclusive. These hypotheses are elaborated in the references cited above. The present review summarizes recent experimental results that, in our opinion, buttress a subset of the hypotheses and add to the list of difficulties that challenge many of the others.

Function versus dysfunction
The desire to understand normal functions of the BG is…...

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