Striatal activation during acquisition of a cognitive skill

Neuropsychology. 1999 Oct;13(4):564-74. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.13.4.564.


The striatum is thought to play an essential role in the acquisition of a wide range of motor, perceptual, and cognitive skills, but neuroimaging has not yet demonstrated striatal activation during nonmotor skill learning. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed while participants learned probabilistic classification, a cognitive task known to rely on procedural memory early in learning and declarative memory later in learning. Multiple brain regions were active during probabilistic classification compared with a perceptual-motor control task, including bilateral frontal cortices, occipital cortex, and the right caudate nucleus in the striatum. The left hippocampus was less active bilaterally during probabilistic classification than during the control task, and the time course of this hippocampal deactivation paralleled the expected involvement of medial temporal structures based on behavioral studies of amnesic patients. Findings provide initial evidence for the role of frontostriatal systems in normal cognitive skill learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology