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Eur J Neurosci. 2011 Jun;33(11):2070-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07691.x.

Probing basal ganglia functions by saccade eye movements.

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Department of Physiology, Kansai Medical University, Fumizonocho 10-15, Moriguchi, Osaka 570-8506, Japan.


The basal ganglia (BG) are a group of subcortical structures involved in diverse functions, such as motor, cognition and emotion. However, the BG do not control these functions directly, but rather modulate functional processes occurring in structures outside the BG. The BG form multiple functional loops, each of which controls different functions with similar architectures. Accordingly, to understand the modulatory role of the BG, it is strategic to uncover the mechanisms of signal processing within specific functional loops that control simple neural circuits outside the BG, and then extend the knowledge to other BG loops. The saccade control system is one of the best-understood neural circuits in the brain. Furthermore, sophisticated saccade paradigms have been used extensively in clinical research in patients with BG disorders as well as in basic research in behaving monkeys. In this review, we describe recent advances of BG research from the viewpoint of saccade control. Specifically, we account for experimental results from neuroimaging and clinical studies in humans based on the updated knowledge of BG functions derived from neurophysiological experiments in behaving monkeys by taking advantage of homologies in saccade behavior. It has become clear that the traditional BG network model for saccade control is too limited to account for recent evidence emerging from the roles of subcortical nuclei not incorporated in the model. Here, we extend the traditional model and propose a new hypothetical framework to facilitate clinical and basic BG research and dialogue in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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