The basal ganglia: from motor commands to the control of vigor

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2016 Apr;37:158-166. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Mar 21.

Abstract

Vertebrates are remarkable for their ability to select and execute goal-directed actions: motor skills critical for thriving in complex, competitive environments. A key aspect of a motor skill is the ability to execute its component movements over a range of speeds, amplitudes and frequencies (vigor). Recent work has indicated that a subcortical circuit, the basal ganglia, is a critical determinant of movement vigor in rodents and primates. We propose that the basal ganglia evolved from a circuit that in lower vertebrates and some mammals is sufficient to directly command simple or stereotyped movements to one that indirectly controls the vigor of goal-directed movements. The implications of a dual role of the basal ganglia in the control of vigor and response to reward are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Reward
  • Vertebrates