A Cortico-Basal Ganglia Model to Understand the Neural Dynamics of Targeted Reaching in Normal and Parkinson’s Conditions

  • Vignesh Muralidharan
  • Alekhya Mandali
  • Pragathi Priyadharsini Balasubramani
  • Hima Mehta
  • V. Srinivasa Chakravarthy
  • Marjan Jahanshahi
Part of the Cognitive Science and Technology book series (CSAT)


We present a cortico-basal ganglia model to study the neural mechanisms behind reaching movements in normal and in Parkinson’s disease conditions. The model consists of the following components: a two-joint arm model (AM), a layer of motor neurons in the spinal cord (MN), the proprioceptive cortex (PC), the motor cortex (MC), the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the basal ganglia (BG). The model thus has an outer sensory-motor cortical loop and an inner cortico-basal ganglia loop to drive learning of reaching behavior. Sensory and motor maps are formed by the PC and MC which represent the space of arm configurations. The BG sends control signals to the MC following a stochastic gradient ascent policy applied to the value function defined over the arm configuration space. The trainable connections from PFC to MC can directly activate the motor cortex, thereby producing rapid movement avoiding the slow search conducted by the BG. The model captures the two main stages of motor learning, i.e., slow movements dominated by the BG during early stages and cortically driven fast movements with smoother trajectories at later stages. The model explains PD performance in stationary and pursuit reaching tasks. The model also shows that PD symptoms like tremor and rigidity could be attributed to synchronized oscillations in STN–GPe. The model is in line with closed-loop control and with neural representations for all the nuclei which explains Parkinsonian reaching. By virtue of its ability to capture the role of cortico-basal ganglia systems in controlling a wide range of features of reaching, the proposed model can potentially serve as a benchmark to test various motor pathologies of the BG.


Cortico-basal ganglia model Reaching Motor learning Parkinson’s disease Tremor Rigidity 


Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vignesh Muralidharan
    • 1
  • Alekhya Mandali
    • 2
  • Pragathi Priyadharsini Balasubramani
    • 3
  • Hima Mehta
    • 4
  • V. Srinivasa Chakravarthy
    • 4
  • Marjan Jahanshahi
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Center for Visual ScienceUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biotechnology, Bhupat and Jyoti, Mehta School of BiosciencesIndian Institute of Technology, MadrasChennaiIndia
  5. 5.Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement DisordersUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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