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Keywords:

  • Basal ganglia;
  • Parallel distributed processor

Abstract

Despite recent advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of movement disorders, little is known about the precise function the basal ganglia play in the control of movement. We review an approach to studying the function of neural systems that is based on the use of a class of computer models known as parallel distributed processors (PDPs) and indicate its potential range of applications to the study of movement disorders. PDPs can be used to construct computational devices that take into account the anatomical and pharmacological properties of real neural systems. They can also provide computational-level insights that can lead to novel hypotheses concerning brain function. We discuss both these approaches and outline a scheme of the functional organization of the basal ganglia, which predicts some of the pathophysiological mechanisms that mediate movement disorders and which can be formally modeled on a computer.