The anatomy of the basal ganglia

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module you should be able to:


  • describe the structure of the basal ganglia and their anatomical subdivisions


  • identify their role in neuropsychiatric disorders and their unique links with cerebral processes


  • describe basal ganglia loops and nigrostriatal projections


  • identify the specific functions and clinical significance of basal ganglia loops


  • describe specific neuropsychiatric disorders related to the basal ganglia, including Parkinson’s disease, atypical parkinsonism, Huntingdon disease, Tourette’s syndrome, PANDAS and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 


Module introduction

The basal ganglia are 'large subcortical nuclear masses' (Ring & Serra-Mestres, 2002) forming a vastly interconnected network with other brain structures.


These subcortical nuclei are traditionally considered to be part of a 'motor control system'. They have also been associated with behavioural and emotional functions and it is widely recognised that malfunctions in this area can manifest into a variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms and disorders.


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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