Distinct roles for motor cortical and thalamic inputs to striatum during motor learning and execution.


The acquisition and execution of learned motor sequences are mediated by a distributed motor network, spanning cortical and subcortical brain areas. The sensorimotor striatum is an important cog in this network, yet how its two main inputs, from motor cortex and thalamus respectively, contribute to its role in motor learning and execution remains largely unknown. To address this, we trained rats in a task that produces highly stereotyped and idiosyncratic motor sequences. We found that motor cortical input to the sensorimotor striatum is critical for the learning process, but after the behaviors were consolidated, this corticostriatal pathway became dispensable. Functional silencing of striatal-projecting thalamic neurons, however, disrupted the execution of the learned motor sequences, causing rats to revert to behaviors produced early in learning and preventing them from re-learning the task. These results show that the sensorimotor striatum is a conduit through which motor cortical inputs can drive experience-dependent changes in subcortical motor circuits, likely at thalamostriatal synapses.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/825810


Publisher's Version

Last updated on 12/16/2019