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Neuroscience. 1999;89(4):1009-23.

The basal ganglia: a vertebrate solution to the selection problem?

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Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK.


A selection problem arises whenever two or more competing systems seek simultaneous access to a restricted resource. Consideration of several selection architectures suggests there are significant advantages for systems which incorporate a central switching mechanism. We propose that the vertebrate basal ganglia have evolved as a centralized selection device, specialized to resolve conflicts over access to limited motor and cognitive resources. Analysis of basal ganglia functional architecture and its position within a wider anatomical framework suggests it can satisfy many of the requirements expected of an efficient selection mechanism.

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