A Theory of the Basal Ganglia and Their Disorders: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

A Theory of the Basal Ganglia and Their Disorders

1st Edition

By Robert Miller

CRC Press

312 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781420058970
pub: 2007-08-08
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429149498
pub: 2007-08-08
from $28.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


The Basal ganglia, to adopt a phrase of Churchill's, are "a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." And although there is a wealth of information available on them, this research field remains controversial due in part to the diverse number of disciplines involved. A Theory of the Basal Ganglia and Their Disorders provides a clear, coherent view of basal ganglia that integrates evidence from the basic neurosciences, neurology, and psychiatry. The author explores the basal ganglia within a context of the function of the mammalian forebrain as a whole.

Divided into two parts, the book explores the basic framework in which normal functions of the basal ganglia can be understood, and then moves on to discuss major disorders. It explains, as far as possible, symptoms and related clinical facts in terms of the underlying pathology and pathophysiology. With this goal in mind, the author includes only disorders of the basal ganglia for which there are already clear ideas about the underlying neuropathology or pathophysiology. He also conveys the human experience of these disorders as well as their scientific basis.

While many books cover cutting-edge research, none have addressed large-scale questions about the role of the basal ganglia as a whole. Until now. This is arguably the only book published in the last 50 years that has attempted to provide an overall theory of the basal ganglia, as well as relevant areas of neurology and psychiatry. It concisely presents the theory, rather than comprehensively covering all the literature, and places the essential clinical facts within a framework formulated for normal operations of the basal ganglia. Presenting a unified view, the book takes several steps toward unraveling the riddle that is basal ganglia.


"Miller’s knowledge of the anatomy of neurological disorders is impressive. Only a person with a lifetime of experience in basal ganglia research could pull together such a wide range of information into a coherent model. We can all be grateful for the work of researchers like Robert Miller who have persevered for so many years in this area and are giving us all a coherent model of basal ganglia function."

– James J. Jakubow in PsycCRITIQUES, Volume 54, No. 35, 2008

Table of Contents


Introduction: Background to the Dynamics of the Basal Ganglia

The Cortico-Thalamo-Hippocampal Excitatory Network: Substrate for Cell Assemblies and Associative Operations

Definition of Executive Functions

The "Motor Thalamus": Target of Executive Decisions?

The Striatum: Functional Significance and "Direct" Connectivity to Output Nuclei of the Basal Ganglia

The Striatum: Detector and Encoder of Motivationally Significant Outcomes of Behavior and Deployer of Motivationally Favorable Behaviors

Functional Subdivisions within Each Component of the Basal Ganglia

The "Credit Assignment Problem"

Morphological Evidence about the Fine Distribution of Connections in the Basal Ganglia

Cybernetic Interpretations Derived from Quantitative Synaptology

Collateral Inhibition in the Striatum

The "Indirect" Pathways from Striatum to Basal Ganglia Output Nuclei, and Their Relation to the "Direct" Pathway

Overall Patterns of Connectivity

Segregation versus Overlap of "Direct" and "Indirect" Pathways from Striatum to Thalamus

The "Credit Assignment Problem" in the Indirect Pathway

Evidence on the Relative Role of "Direct" and "Indirect" Pathways

Theories of Basal Ganglionic Function

Early Theories

Synopsis of Key Issues

The "Scaling of Movement" Hypothesis

The "Focused Selection" Hypothesis

A More Complete Version of the "Focused Selection" Theory, Including Predictions

Comparison with an Earlier Theory of the Basal Ganglia: Significance of Cell Assemblies

Dynamics of Neural Activity in Structures of the Basal Ganglia and the Nature of the Neural Code in These Structures

Synopsis of Part I and Predictions Derived from It



General Comments

Neuropathology and Pathophysiology of Disorders of the Basal Ganglia

Huntington's Disease

Parkinson's Disease and Parkinsonian Syndromes


The "Goad and the Halter" in Parkinson's Disease

Coactivation of Striatal Neurons and Cognitive Problems Associated with Parkinsonian Syndromes

Inflexibility of Adjustments of Posture and Gait in Parkinson's Disease

The Role of the Subthalamus in Production of Parkinsonian Symptoms

Burst Firing in Components of the Basal Ganglia and Parkinsonian Tremor

Direct Connections from Basal Ganglia to Brain Stem, and Their Role in Parkinsonian Akinesia and Rigidity

Parkinson's Disease: Summary

Dopamine-Dependent Psychosis


Development of the Dopamine Hypothesis of Psychosis

Neural Dynamics in the Basal Ganglia When Dopaminergic Tone is Elevated

Overactivity of Striatal Dopamine in Relation to the Symptoms of Psychosis

Pharmacology of Psychosis

Positive Feedback between Striatum and Cortex in the Generation of Psychosis

Syndromes Arising as Complications of Prolonged Underactivity of Striatal Dopamine Mechanism, and Other Disorders of the Basal Ganglia


Reasons for Identifying Striatal Cholinergic Cell Loss as the Origin of the Four Syndromes

Phenomenology of Peak Dose Dyskinesia and Tardive Dyskinesia

Dyskinesias, Stereotypy, Refractory Psychosis and Other Behavioral Pathologies Related to High-Dopamine States without a Prior History of Prolonged Dopaminergic Underactivity

Pharmacological Theory: Involvement of Dopaminergic and Cholinergic Receptor Subtypes

Other Disorders Involving the Basal Ganglia

Synopsis of Part II and Predictions Derived from It

Appendix 1: Abbreviations

Appendix 2: Pharmacological Agents and Their Actions References


About the Series

Conceptual Advances in Brain Research

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Neurology
MEDICAL / Psychiatry / General
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Neuroscience