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Neuroscientist. 2006 Aug;12(4):285-90.

The basal ganglia in human learning.

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Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


For many years, the basal ganglia were described in anatomy courses as strictly motor structures. Certainly, some of the most obvious and debilitating symptoms shown by persons with basal ganglia disorders are problems in motor control. However, the basal ganglia are not limited to motoric aspects of behavior: recent research shows that they are involved in most areas of cognitive and emotional functioning, consistent with their anatomical connections with all areas of the cortex. This review will focus on the roles of the basal ganglia in human learning, particularly sequence learning and category learning. Current areas of research that are discussed include the differing roles of different basal ganglia regions, patterns of interaction between the cortex and basal ganglia, differences in positive and negative association learning, effects of dopaminergic medication on learning, whether basal ganglia-mediated learning is implicit or explicit, and how the basal ganglia learning systems interact with other learning systems, particularly within the medial temporal lobe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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