The basal ganglia control the detailed kinematics of learned motor skills

Published Date: 
July 15, 2021

The basal ganglia are known to influence action selection and modulation of movement vigor, but whether and how they contribute to specifying the kinematics of learned motor skills is not understood. Here, we probe this question by recording and manipulating basal ganglia activity in rats trained to generate complex task-specific movement patterns with rich kinematic structure. We find that the sensorimotor arm of the basal ganglia circuit is crucial for generating the detailed movement patterns underlying the acquired motor skills. Furthermore, the neural representations in the striatum, and the control function they subserve, do not depend on inputs from the motor cortex. Taken together, these results extend our understanding of the basal ganglia by showing that they can specify and control the fine-grained details of learned motor skills through their interactions with lower-level motor circuits.


Ashesh K Dhawale, Steffen B E Wolff, Raymond Ko, Bence P Ölveczky