Ever since the initial discovery of the system, damage to the nigrostriatal dopamine system has been associated with motor impairments, akinesia in animals and Parkinson's disease in man. The present review focuses on the experimental techniques involving the use of pharmacological and lesion manipulations in experimental animals, particularly in rats, to explore the role of dopamine neurones in normal motor behavior and a detailed analysis of its role in the disability, plasticity and recovery of functions. Experiments based on the novel toxins and the use of the genetic models are reviewed and compared with the classical neurochemical lesions. Together, these studies indicate that dopamine neurones are not simply permissive- allowing normal motor behavior to be expressed — but are involved in the selection and the initiation of appropriate actions, and in establishing and maintaining motor skills and habits.
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