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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 26 (2013), Issue 4, Pages 219-223

Functional Neuroanatomy and Behavioural Correlates of the Basal Ganglia: Evidence from Lesion Studies

Peter Ward,1 Stefano Seri,2 and Andrea Eugenio Cavanna1,3

1The Michael Trimble Neuropsychiatry Research Group, Department of Neuropsychiatry, BSMHFT and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
2School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
3Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology and University College London, London, UK

Received 21 May 2012; Accepted 21 May 2012

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction: The basal ganglia are interconnected with cortical areas involved in behavioural, cognitive and emotional processes, in addition to movement regulation. Little is known about which of these functions are associated with individual basal ganglia substructures.

Methods: Pubmed was searched for literature related to behavioural, cognitive and emotional symptoms associated with focal lesions to basal ganglia structures in humans.

Results: Six case-control studies and two case reports were identified as relevant. Lesion sites included the caudate nucleus, putamen and globus pallidus. These were associated with a spectrum of behavioural and cognitive symptoms, including abulia, poor working memory and deficits in emotional recognition.

Discussion: It is often difficult to precisely map associations between cognitive, emotional or behavioural functions and particular basal ganglia substructures, due to the non-specific nature of the lesions. However, evidence from lesion studies shows that most symptoms correspond with established non-motor frontal-subcortical circuits.