The basal ganglia and cortex are strongly implicated in the control of motor preparation and execution. Re-entrant loops between these two brain areas are thought to determine the selection of motor repertoires for instrumental action. The nature of neural encoding and processing in the motor cortex as well as the way in which selection by the basal ganglia acts on them is currently debated. The classic view of the motor cortex implementing a direct mapping of information from perception to muscular responses is challenged by proposals viewing it as a set of dynamical systems controlling muscles. Consequently, the common idea that a competition between relatively segregated cortico-striato-nigro-thalamo-cortical channels selects patterns of activity in the motor cortex is no more sufficient to explain how action selection works. Here, we contribute to develop the dynamical view of the basal ganglia–cortical system by proposing a computational model in which a thalamo-cortical dynamical neural reservoir is modulated by disinhibitory selection of the basal ganglia guided by top-down information, so that it responds with different dynamics to the same bottom-up input. The model shows how different motor trajectories can so be produced by controlling the same set of joint actuators. Furthermore, the model shows how the basal ganglia might modulate cortical dynamics by preserving coarse-grained spatiotemporal information throughout cortico-cortical pathways.
Mannella, F., & Baldassarre, G. (2015). Selection of cortical dynamics for motor behaviour by the basal ganglia. Biological Cybernetics, 109(6), 575–595. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00422-015-0662-6