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Title: The role of the basal ganglia in implicit contextual learning: a study of Parkinson's disease
Authors: van Asselen, Marieke 
Almeida, Inês 
André, Rui 
Januário, Cristina 
Gonçalves, António Freire 
Castelo-Branco, Miguel 
Keywords: Implicit contextual cueing; Memory; Spatial; Basal ganglia; Parkinson's disease
Issue Date: Apr-2009
Publisher: Elsevier
Project: POCI-SAU-NEU-60281-2004 
Serial title, monograph or event: Neuropsychologia
Volume: 47
Issue: 5
Abstract: Implicit contextual learning refers to the ability to memorize contextual information from our environment. This contextual information can then be used to guide our attention to a specific location. Although the medial temporal lobe is important for this type of learning, the basal ganglia might also be involved considering its role in many implicit learning processes. In order to understand the role of the basal ganglia in this top-down process, a group of non-demented early-stage Parkinson's patients were tested with a contextual cueing task. In this visual search task, subjects have to quickly locate a target among a number of distractors. To test implicit contextual learning, some of the configurations are repeated during the experiment, resulting in faster responses. A significant interaction effect was found between Group and Configuration, indicating that the control subjects responded faster when the spatial context was repeated, whereas Parkinson's patients failed to do so. These results, showing that the contextual cueing effect was significantly different for the patients than for the controls, suggest an important role for the basal ganglia in implicit contextual learning, thus extending previous findings of medial temporal lobe involvement. The basal ganglia are therefore not only involved in implicit motor learning, but may also have a role in purely visual implicit learning.
ISSN: 0028-3932
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.01.008
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FMUC Medicina - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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