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Reviews in the Neurosciences

Editor-in-Chief: Huston, Joseph P.

Editorial Board: Topic, Bianca / Adeli, Hojjat / Buzsaki, Gyorgy / Crawley, Jacqueline / Crow, Tim / Gold, Paul / Holsboer, Florian / Korth, Carsten / Li, Jay-Shake / Lubec, Gert / McEwen, Bruce / Pan, Weihong / Pletnikov, Mikhail / Robbins, Trevor / Schnitzler, Alfons / Stevens, Charles / Steward, Oswald / Trojanowski, John

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Volume 24, Issue 1


The basal ganglia: motor and cognitive relationships in a clinical neurobehavioral context

Gerry Leisman
  • Corresponding author
  • F.R. Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation, and Applied Neurosciences, Garden City, 11530, NY, USA
  • The National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences, Nazareth, 16100, Israel
  • Biomedical Engineering ORT-Braude College, Karmiel 21982, Israel
  • Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of the Medical Sciences, Havana 10400, Cuba
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Robert Melillo
  • F.R. Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation, and Applied Neurosciences, Garden City, 11530, NY, USA
  • The National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences, Nazareth, 16100, Israel
  • Nazareth Academic Institute, Nazareth, 16100, Israel
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2012-12-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2012-0067


New information about the basal ganglia and cerebellar connections with the cerebral cortex has prompted a reevaluation of the role of the basal ganglia in cognition. We know that the relation between the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortical region allows for connections organized into discrete circuits. Rather than serving as a means for widespread cortical areas to gain access to the motor system, these loops reciprocally interconnect a large and diverse set of cerebral cortical areas with the basal ganglia. The properties of neurons within the basal ganglia or cerebellar components of these circuits resemble the properties of neurons within the cortical areas subserved by these loops. For example, neuronal activity within the basal ganglia and cerebellar loops with motor areas of the cerebral cortex is highly correlated with parameters of movement, whereas neuronal activity within the basal ganglia and cerebellar loops with areas of the prefrontal cortex is more related to the aspects of cognitive function. Thus, individual loops appear to be involved in distinct behavioral functions. Studies of the basal ganglia and cerebellar pathology support this conclusion. Damage to the basal ganglia or cerebellar components of circuits with motor areas of the cortex leads to motor symptoms, whereas damage to the subcortical components of circuits with nonmotor areas of the cortex causes higher-order deficits. In this report, we review some of the new anatomic, physiologic, and behavioral findings that have contributed to a reappraisal of function concerning the basal ganglia and cerebellar loops with the cerebral cortex and apply it in clinical applications to obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as examples of how compromise at different points in the system may yield similar but different clinical results.

Keywords: basal ganglia; cognition; direct pathways; frontal lobes; indirect pathways; OCD; Tourette’s syndrome

About the article

Gerry Leisman

Gerry Leisman is an Israeli neuroscientist educated in Europe and the United States in Medicine, Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering at Manchester University. He received a PhD in Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering from Union University, in 1979. Currently he is Director of the National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences in Nazareth, Israel, Scientific Director of the F.R. Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation, and Applied Neuroscience (C.E.R.A.N.), a global research institute with laboratories in New York, USA, Nazareth, Israel and in Havana, Cuba. He is also Professor of Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences at the Medical University of Havana and Professor of Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at ORT-Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel, Israel. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Functional Neurology, Rehabilitation, and Ergonomics. His scientific career has been involved in the promotion of consciousness as a scientifically tractable problem using the modern tools of neurobiology and understood by mechanisms of theoretical physics and self-organizing systems. Also in Rehabilitation Sciences he has been able to apply the tools of Industrial Engineering to applications of optimization in human rehabilitation for those having sustained traumatic brain injury and developmental disabilities. In 2011 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation.

Robert Melillo

Dr. Robert Melillo has been an active clinician for over 25 years specializing in childhood neurological disorders. He co-authored the text Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective, published in 2009 as well as the texts for lay audiences Disconnected Kids, Reconnected Kids, and Autism. He is Executive Director of the FR Carrick Institute for clinical ergonomics, rehabilitation, and Applied Neurosciences and The Children’s Autism Hope Project. He is Affiliate Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences at Nazareth Academic Institute and Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences in Nazareth, Israel. He holds a master’s degree in Neuroscience and a Master of Sciences in Clinical Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, and is completing his doctorate in Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences. He holds a doctorate in Chiropractic, and is a Diplomate in Neurology, also holding a Fellowship American College of Functional Neurology. He is also President of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Functional Neurology, Rehabilitation and Ergonomics. He has published numerous scientific papers and contributed chapters to seven professional books.

Corresponding author: Gerry Leisman, The National Institute for Brain & Rehabilitation Sciences-Biomedical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, ORT-Braude College of Engineering, P.O. Box 78, Karmiel 21982, Israel

Received: 2012-08-15

Accepted: 2012-09-08

Published Online: 2012-12-14

Published in Print: 2013-02-01

Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 9–25, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2012-0067.

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