A neural model of basal ganglia-thalamocortical relations in normal and parkinsonian movement

José Luis Contreras-Vidal, George E. Stelmach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Anatomical, neurophysiological, and neurochemical evidence supports the notion of parallel basal ganglia-thalamocortical motor systems. We developed a neural network model for the functioning of these systems during normal and parkinsonian movement. Parkinson's disease (PD), which results predominantly from nigrostriatal pathway damage, is used as a window to examine basal ganglia function. Simulations of dopamine depletion produce motor impairments consistent with motor deficits observed in PD that suggest the basal ganglia play a role in motor initiation and execution, and sequencing of motor programs. Stereotaxic lesions in the model's globus pallidus and subthalamic nucleus suggest that these lesions, although reducing some PD symptoms, may constrain the repertoire of available movements. It is proposed that paradoxical observations of basal ganglia responses reported in the literature may result from regional functional neuronal specialization, and the non-uniform distributions of neurochemicals in the basal ganglia. It is hypothesized that dopamine depletion produces smaller-than-normal pallidothalamic gating signals that prevent rescalability of these signals to control variable movement speed, and that in PD can produce smaller-than-normal movement amplitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-476
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Computer Science(all)


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