Action, time and the basal ganglia.
The ability to control the speed of movement is compromised in neurological disorders involving the basal ganglia, a set of subcortical cerebral nuclei that receive prominent dopaminergic projections from the midbrain. For example, bradykinesia, slowness of movement, is a major symptom of Parkinson's disease, whereas rapid tics are observed in patients with Tourette syndrome. Recent experimental work has also implicated dopamine (DA) and the basal ganglia in action timing. Here, I advance the hypothesis that the basal ganglia control the rate of change in kinaesthetic perceptual variables. In particular, the sensorimotor cortico-basal ganglia network implements a feedback circuit for the control of movement velocity. By modulating activity in this network, DA can change the gain of velocity reference signals. The lack of DA thus reduces the output of the velocity control system which specifies the rate of change in body configurations, slowing the transition from one body configuration to another.
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