Motor learning in monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) with lesions in motor thalamus.
Canavan AG., Nixon PD., Passingham RE.
The study examines the nature of the influence that the basal ganglia exert on frontal cortex via the motor nuclei of the thalamus. Twelve monkeys were trained to pull a handle given one colour cue and to turn it given another. Bilateral lesions were then placed in the ventral thalamus. Four monkeys with large anterior lesions including the VA nucleus and the anterior part of VLo were severely impaired at relearning the task. Monkeys with small lesions in VAmc or with lesions centred on VLo were not impaired. The analysis of the histology suggests that the impairment in the four monkeys did not result from involvement of the cerebellar relay through nucleus X. It is argued that the animals are not impaired because of faulty execution. This suggests that the basal ganglia have an influence on motor learning.