The dorsal striatum (dS) has been implicated in storing procedural memories and controlling movement kinematics. Since procedural memories are expressed through movements, the exact nature of the dS function has proven difficult to delineate. Here, we challenged rats in complementary locomotion-based tasks designed to alleviate this confound. Surprisingly, dS lesions did not impair the rats' ability to remember the procedure for the successful completion of motor routines. However, the speed and initiation of the reward-oriented phase of the routines were irreversibly altered by the dS lesion. Further behavioral analyses, combined with modeling in the optimal control framework, indicated that these kinematic alterations were well explained by an increased sensitivity to effort. Our work provides evidence supporting a primary role of the dS in modulating the kinematics of reward-oriented actions, a function that may be related to the optimization of the energetic costs of moving.
Keywords: basal ganglia; dorsal striatum; effort; locomotion; motor control; motor sequence; optimal control; procedural memory; rats; vigor.
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