eISSN: 2084-9885
ISSN: 1896-6764
Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia/Neuropsychiatry and Neuropsychology
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vol. 4

Review article
The role of basal ganglia in controlling cognitive functions

Ilona Laskowska
Edward Jacek Gorzelańczyk

Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia 2009; 4, 1: 26-35
Online publish date: 2009/06/16
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According to current knowledge, basal ganglia are no longer solely associated with movement control. Due to the complex structural and functional connections of basal ganglia with widespread regions of the cortex, especially with associative prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia contribute to many functions, including: selective gating function, selecting between competing actions, maintaining information in the working memory, goal selection, planning and sequencing of behavioural acts. This does not mean that the basal ganglia play that role themselves, but rather that the basal ganglia complement the role of the frontal cortex. To simplify, we can say that the role of the basal ganglia with respect to the frontal cortex is initiation of movement and cognitive actions. The basal ganglia in collaboration with the frontal cortex play a role in the decision-making process, in selecting motion and cognitive acts, in set shifting and working memory. A common source of knowledge on the role of the basal ganglia in cognitive regulation is provided by the numerous recently developed neurocomputational models attempting to reproduce the relation between the basal ganglia and the frontal cortex in controlling higher cognitive functions. Another source of knowledge is constituted by data resulting from neuroimaging studies enabling one to detect the activity of selected structures of the basal ganglia during performance of specific cognitive tasks, as well as by anatomical data.

basal ganglia, striatum, cognitive functions, working memory

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