Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Cognition, behavior, and the globus pallidus

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 594-595
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6312.594-c

Deep inside the brain, the external segment of the globus pallidus receives many inputs from the neighboring basal ganglia. Its role in basic cognitive functions has rarely been measured directly. While monkeys were learning a complex task, Schechtman et al. recorded discharges from prototypical neurons in the structure. The animals had to switch to a new stimulus-reward association once a predefined learning criterion had been reached. The activity of the neurons predicted whether the monkeys would change or maintain their previous stimulus choice. Neuronal spike activity also encoded whether such choices were successful. When the animals' performance became more automated and less demanding, discharge rates in the context of choice selection decreased.

Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 10.1073/pnas.1612392113 (2016).

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