How do the basal ganglia contribute to categorization? Their roles in generalization, response selection, and learning via feedback

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(2):265-78. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.07.010. Epub 2007 Aug 12.


This article examines how independent corticostriatal loops linking basal ganglia with cerebral cortex contribute to visual categorization. The first aspect of categorization discussed is the role of the visual corticostriatal loop, which connects the visual cortex and the body/tail of the caudate, in mapping visual stimuli to categories, including evaluating the degree to which this loop may generalize across individual category members. The second aspect of categorization discussed is the selection of appropriate actions or behaviors on the basis of category membership, and the role of the visual corticostriatal loop output and the motor corticostriatal loop, which connects motor planning areas with the putamen, in action selection. The third aspect of categorization discussed is how categories are learned with the aid of feedback linked dopaminergic projections to the basal ganglia. These projections underlie corticostriatal synaptic plasticity across the basal ganglia, and also serve as input to the executive and motivational corticostriatal loops that play a role in strategic use of feedback.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Classification
  • Concept Formation*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neostriatum / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology