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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Nov;11(11):760-72. doi: 10.1038/nrn2915. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Goal-directed and habitual control in the basal ganglia: implications for Parkinson's disease.

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Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK.


Progressive loss of the ascending dopaminergic projection in the basal ganglia is a fundamental pathological feature of Parkinson's disease. Studies in animals and humans have identified spatially segregated functional territories in the basal ganglia for the control of goal-directed and habitual actions. In patients with Parkinson's disease the loss of dopamine is predominantly in the posterior putamen, a region of the basal ganglia associated with the control of habitual behaviour. These patients may therefore be forced into a progressive reliance on the goal-directed mode of action control that is mediated by comparatively preserved processing in the rostromedial striatum. Thus, many of their behavioural difficulties may reflect a loss of normal automatic control owing to distorting output signals from habitual control circuits, which impede the expression of goal-directed action.

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