Thinking Outside the Box (and Arrow): Current Themes in Striatal Dysfunction in Movement Disorders

Joshua L. Plotkin, Joshua A. Goldberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The basal ganglia are an intricately connected assembly of subcortical nuclei, forming the core of an adaptive network connecting cortical and thalamic circuits. For nearly three decades, researchers and medical practitioners have conceptualized how the basal ganglia circuit works, and how its pathology underlies motor disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, using what is often referred to as the “box-and-arrow model”: a circuit diagram showing the broad strokes of basal ganglia connectivity and the pathological increases and decreases in the weights of specific connections that occur in disease. While this model still has great utility and has led to groundbreaking strategies to treat motor disorders, our evolving knowledge of basal ganglia function has made it clear that this classic model has several shortcomings that severely limit its predictive and descriptive abilities. In this review, we will focus on the striatum, the main input nucleus of the basal ganglia. We describe recent advances in our understanding of the rich microcircuitry and plastic capabilities of the striatum, factors not captured by the original box-and-arrow model, and provide examples of how such advances inform our current understanding of the circuit pathologies underlying motor disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)359-379
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • direct and indirect pathway
  • dopamine acetylcholine balance
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • striatal interneurons
  • striatal projection neurons
  • synaptic plasticity
  • synchronous oscillations


Dive into the research topics of 'Thinking Outside the Box (and Arrow): Current Themes in Striatal Dysfunction in Movement Disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this