Evidence for the importance of basal ganglia output nuclei in semantic event sequencing: an fMRI study

Brain Res. 2006 Jan 5;1067(1):239-49. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.10.057. Epub 2005 Dec 19.


Semantic event sequencing is the ability to plan ahead and order meaningful events chronologically. To investigate the neural systems supporting this ability, an fMRI picture sequencing task was developed. Participants sequenced a series of four pictures presented in random order based on the temporal relationship among them. A control object discrimination task was designed to be comparable to the sequencing task regarding semantic, visuospatial, and motor processing requirements but without sequencing demands. fMRI revealed significant activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and globus pallidus internal part in the picture sequencing task compared with the control task. The findings suggest that circuits involving the frontal lobe and basal ganglia output nuclei are important for picture sequencing and more generally for the sequential ordering of events. This is consistent with the idea that the basal ganglia output nuclei are critical not only for motor but also for high-level cognitive function, including behaviors involving meaningful information. We suggest that the interaction between the frontal lobes and basal ganglia output nuclei in semantic event sequencing can be generalized to include the sequential ordering of behaviors in which the selective updating of neural representations is the key computation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Visual Perception