The striatum, the main input nucleus of the basal ganglia, controls goal-directed behavior and procedural learning. Striatal projection neurons integrate glutamatergic inputs from cortex and thalamus together with neuromodulatory systems, and are subjected to plasticity. Striatal projection neurons exhibit bidirectional plasticity (LTP and LTD) when exposed to Hebbian paradigms. Importantly, correlative and even causal links between procedural learning and striatal plasticity have recently been shown. This short review summarizes the current view on striatal plasticity (with a focus on spike-timing-dependent plasticity), recent studies aiming at bridging in vivo skill acquisition and striatal plasticity, the temporal credit-assignment problem, and the gaps that remain to be filled.
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