Functional neuroanatomy and behavioural correlates of the basal ganglia: evidence from lesion studies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-23
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Basal Ganglia/anatomy & histology, Cognition/physiology, Emotions/physiology, Frontal Lobe/physiology, Humans, Neural Pathways/physiology, Thalamus/physiology