Dynamic Reorganization of Striatal Circuits During the Acquisition and Consolidation of a Skill

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Mar;12(3):333-41. doi: 10.1038/nn.2261. Epub 2009 Feb 8.

Abstract

The learning of new skills is characterized by an initial phase of rapid improvement in performance and a phase of more gradual improvements as skills are automatized and performance asymptotes. Using in vivo striatal recordings, we observed region-specific changes in neural activity during the different phases of skill learning, with the associative or dorsomedial striatum being preferentially engaged early in training and the sensorimotor or dorsolateral striatum being engaged later in training. Ex vivo recordings from medium spiny striatal neurons in brain slices of trained mice revealed that the changes observed in vivo corresponded to regional- and training-specific changes in excitatory synaptic transmission in the striatum. Furthermore, the potentiation of glutamatergic transmission observed in dorsolateral striatum after extensive training was preferentially expressed in striatopallidal neurons, rather than striatonigral neurons. These findings demonstrate that region- and pathway-specific plasticity sculpts the circuits involved in the performance of the skill as it becomes automatized.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology