Brain and Behavior

The Major Structures of the Brain

What are the basal ganglia?

The basal ganglia are centrally involved with action and motor behavior. The basal ganglia are actually a group of brain regions, including the putamen, globus pallidus, and caudate nucleus. This part of the brain is relatively old, phylogenetically, and handles the more automatic aspects of behavior. When we learn a new behavioral sequence, like riding a bicycle, we initially depend on the frontal lobes while we are concentrating on what we are doing. After the behavior is learned and becomes more automatic, however, it is handled by the basal ganglia. Damage to the basal ganglia can severely disrupt motor behavior, as is found in neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.


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