Role of Basal Ganglia in Habit Learning and Memory: Rats, Monkeys, and Humans Academic Article uri icon


  • This chapter discusses that the basal ganglia mediate a form of learning in which hullian-like stimulus-response (S-R) habits are acquired and expressed. This hypothesis has largely been developed within the context of a multiple systems approach to memory organization. According to multiple memory systems theory, relatively independent brain systems support the acquisition of different types of memory. It discusses that multiple memory systems theory is derived from an analysis of the effects of damage to the hippocampal system on behavior across a wide range of learning tasks. This analysis revealed that the effects of hippocampal lesions on learning and memory were selective, producing impairment on tasks involving cognitive/relational memory, and sparing acquisition of tasks that are acquired using S-R habit learning. The chapter provides an overview of data supporting this hypothesis by focusing on evidence that the role of the basal ganglia in habit learning and memory generalizes across different mammalian species, including rats, monkeys, and humans. The chapter provides converging evidence for this view of the mnemonic function of the basal ganglia by highlighting a few prominent experiments from each of these species. Review of the findings from lower animals (rats and non-human primates) focuses on lesion studies, whereas description of the human research focuses on research involving patients with neuropsychological disorders and neuroimaging studies. These studies predominantly assessed the role of the striatum/caudate nucleus and putamen. 2010, Elsevier Inc.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Packard, M. G.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Packard, Mark G

publication date

  • January 2010