The basal ganglia, also known as the basal nuclei, are a collection of nuclei located in the brain that work together as a functional unit. They are located at the base of the forebrain and are connected to many other important areas of the brain. Although not all of the functions of the basal ganglia are known this region has been studied closely through experiments with rats and monkeys. There are also two diseases that affect the basal ganglia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, which also provide scientists with information regarding the function.
What is the function of the basal ganglia?
Through their studies scientists have discovered that the basal ganglia is responsible for a number of functions such as voluntary motor control (coordinated movement) and procedural learning. This procedural learning is believed to lead to the formation of behavioral habits as well as other cognitive and emotional functions. It is thought that the basal ganglia remember the trigger that causes a habit to be repeated. It is also known that the basal ganglia are responsible for controlling eye movement.
One of the most interesting functions of the basal ganglia is the role it plays in motivation. Interestingly, patients with Parkinson’s disease are often described as suffering from “paralysis of the will.” It is believed that the basal ganglia has a large part to play in our motivation and plays a role in the brain’s reward system. Some evidence suggests that the basal ganglia are trained to chose behaviors that have been rewarding in the past, which means that the basal ganglia would play a large part in motivation and forming habits.