The role of the dorsal striatum in extinction: A memory systems perspective

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Abstract

The present review describes a role for the dorsal striatum in extinction. Evidence from brain lesion and pharmacological studies indicate that the dorsolateral region of the striatum (DLS) mediates extinction in various maze learning and instrumental learning tasks. Within the context of a multiple memory systems view, the role of the DLS in extinction appears to be selective. Specifically, the DLS mediates extinction of habit memory and is not required for extinction of cognitive memory. Thus, extinction mechanisms mediated by the DLS may involve response-produced inhibition (e.g. inhibition of existing stimulus-response associations or formation of new inhibitory stimulus-response associations), as opposed to cognitive mechanisms (e.g. changes in expectation). Evidence also suggests that NMDA-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity may be part of the mechanism through which the DLS mediates extinction of habit memory. In addition, in some learning situations, DLS inactivation enhances extinction, suggesting a competitive interaction between multiple memory systems during extinction training. Consistent with a multiple memory systems perspective, it is suggested that the DLS represents one of several distinct neural systems that specialize in extinction of different kinds of memory. The relevance of these findings to the development of behavioral and pharmacological therapies that target the maladaptive habit-like symptoms in human psychopathology is also briefly considered.

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