The centre of the brain: topographical model of motor, cognitive, affective, and somatosensory functions of the basal ganglia

Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Nov;34(11):3031-54. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22124. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


The basal ganglia have traditionally been viewed as motor processing nuclei; however, functional neuroimaging evidence has implicated these structures in more complex cognitive and affective processes that are fundamental for a range of human activities. Using quantitative meta-analysis methods we assessed the functional subdivisions of basal ganglia nuclei in relation to motor (body and eye movements), cognitive (working-memory and executive), affective (emotion and reward) and somatosensory functions in healthy participants. We document affective processes in the anterior parts of the caudate head with the most overlap within the left hemisphere. Cognitive processes showed the most widespread response, whereas motor processes occupied more central structures. On the basis of these demonstrated functional roles of the basal ganglia, we provide a new comprehensive topographical model of these nuclei and insight into how they are linked to a wide range of behaviors.

Keywords: Activation Likelihood Estimate method; caudate; functional subdivision; globus pallidus; putamen.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Algorithms
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Reward
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Young Adult