Basal ganglia output and cognition: evidence from anatomical, behavioral, and clinical studies

Brain Cogn. 2000 Mar;42(2):183-200. doi: 10.1006/brcg.1999.1099.


The traditional view that the basal ganglia are simply involved in the control of movement has been challenged in recent years. Three lines of evidence indicate that the basal ganglia also are involved in nonmotor operations. First, the results of anatomical studies clearly indicate that the basal ganglia participate in multiple circuits or 'loops' with cognitive areas of the cerebral cortex. Second, the activity of neurons within selected portions of the basal ganglia is more related to cognitive or sensory operations than to motor functions. Finally, in some instances basal ganglia lesions cause primarily cognitive or sensory disturbances without gross motor impairments. In this report, we briefly review some of these data and present a new anatomical framework for understanding the basal ganglia contributions to nonmotor function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology