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The role of the dorsal striatum in skill learning

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The development of a skill or habit leads to the automation of behaviour triggered by associated stimuli. During early learning actions are goal-directed, however with experience they can become habitual. A shift in activity from the medial to the lateral dorsal striatum is thought to occur as behaviours become more habitual or skilled. I will present the results from a new study investigating the development of heterogeneous sequencing behaviour in rats with lesions to either the medial (DMS) or lateral (DLS) dorsal striatum. The acquisition of sequencing behaviour was impaired in rats with DLS lesions yet enhanced in rats with DMS lesions. This finding suggests the two regions may be acting competitively in the development of habit-like behaviour. In addition, the DLS lesioned rats show differences in action initiation and speed of sequencing without general motor deficits. These results shed light on the role of the dorsal striatum in sequence learning and the relationship between medial and lateral striatum in controlling behaviour.

This talk is part of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Seminars series.

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