Functional organization of the basal ganglia: contributions of single-cell recording studies

Ciba Foundation Symposium - 1984-01-01DeLong MR, Georgopoulos AP, Crutcher MD, Mitchell SJ, Richardson RT, Alexander GE
Studies of single-cell discharge in the basal ganglia of behaving primates have revealed: characteristic patterns of spontaneous discharge in the striatum, external (GPe) and internal (GPi) globus pallidus, pars reticulata and pars compacta of the substantia nigra, and the subthalamic nucleus (STN); phasic changes in neural discharge in relation to movements of specific body parts (e.g. leg, arm, neck, face); short-latency (sensory) neural responses to passive joint rotation; a somatotopic organization of movement-related neurons in GPe, GPi, and STN; a clustering of functionally similar neurons in the putamen and globus pallidus; greater representation of the proximal than of the distal portion of the limb; changes in neural activity in reaction-time tasks, suggesting a greater role of the basal ganglia in the execution than in the initiation of movement in this paradigm; a clear relation of neuronal activity to direction, amplitude (?velocity) of movement, and force; a preferential relation of neural activity to the direction of movement, rather than to the pattern of muscular activity. Some of these findings suggest that the basal ganglia may play a role in the control of movement parameters rather than (or independent of) the pattern of muscular activity. Loss of basal ganglia output related to amplitude may account for the bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease. The presence of somatotopic organization in the putamen and globus pallidus, together with known topographic striopallidal connections, suggests that segregated, parallel cortico-subcortical loops subserve 'motor' and 'complex' functions.