Previous research on the role of the basal ganglia in category learning has focused on patients with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease, neurodegenerative diseases frequently accompanied by additional cortical pathology. The goal of the present study was to extend this work to patients with basal ganglia lesions due to stroke, asking if similar changes in performance would be observed in patients with more focal pathology. Patients with basal ganglia lesions centered in the putamen (6 left side, 1 right side) were tested on rule-based and information-integration visual categorization tasks. In rule-based tasks, it is assumed that participants can learn the category structures through an explicit reasoning process. In information-integration tasks, optimal performance requires the integration of information from two or more stimulus components, and participants are typically unaware of the category rules. Consistent with previous studies involving patients with degenerative disorders of the basal ganglia, the stroke patients were impaired on the rule-based task, and quantitative, model-based analyses indicate that this deficit was due to the inefficient application of decision strategies. In contrast, the patients were unimpaired on the information-integration task. This pattern of results provides converging evidence supporting a role of the basal ganglia and, in particular, the putamen in rule-based category learning.
Ell, Shawn W.; Marchant, Natalie L.; and Ivry, Richard B., "Focal Putamen Lesions Impair Learning in Rule-Based, but not Information-Integration Categorization Tasks" (2006). Psychology Faculty Scholarship. 28.
Ell, S.W., Marchant, N.L., Ivry, R.B. (2006). Focal Putamen Lesions Impair Learning in Rule-Based, but not Information-Integration Categorization Tasks. Neuropsychologia, 44 (2006), 1737-1751. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.03.018
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