ABSTRACT

This chapter considers the role of the basal ganglia (BG) in goal-directed behavior. In the control of spatial proximity, the simplest possible spatial relationship, representation of the distance between self and target can be used to command self-velocity. In mice, the striatal feedforward inhibition circuit in the dorsal striatum contributes to continuous pursuit behavior, by converting the distance representation to instantaneous velocity commands. The striatum also contributes to the control of more complex relationship variables like the instrumental contingency between actions and their outcomes. Goal-directed instrumental actions are governed by the desire for a specific outcome as well as the belief that a particular action will lead to that outcome. These criteria can be experimentally tested using behavioral assays like degradation and devaluation. The associative cortico-BG network, especially the posterior dorsomedial striatum, is critical for learning action–outcome contingencies. Such learning is needed for recruiting new actions to reach desired goals.