Putamen: characteristics, anatomy and functions

Putamen: characteristics, anatomy and functions

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The putamen it is a brain structure located in the telencephalon very involved in the regulation and movement control and that next to caudate nucleus form the dorsal striatum, thus being part of the basal ganglia. The putamen it connects to many other structures like the thalamus, the black substance wave motor cortex and its neurons transmit neurotransmitters such as GABA or acetylcholine.


  • 1 Anatomy of the putamen
  • 2 Main functions of the putamen
  • 3 motor skills
  • 4 The putamen and learning
  • 5 The role of the putamen in the hate circuit
  • 6 Putamen-related disorders

Putamen Anatomy

The putamen is in the anterior brain next to the caudate nucleus, being the outermost part of the basal ganglia, constituted by the striated body, of which the putamen, the black substance, the nucleus accumbens and the subthalamic core. This group of nuclei composed of gray substance and connected to the cerebral cortex, the thalamus and brainstem have very important functions for survival such as the regulation of voluntary movement, the skills learning wave motivation. The putamen, in addition, next to the pale balloon form the lenticular nucleus, an important nucleus for the control of motor skills and posture, as well as learning and motivation.

Main functions of the putamen

Thanks to its connections with different areas of the brain, the putamen participates and influences many important processes for the human being, such as motor control or learning. Some of the main functions of this structure are the following:

Motor skills

The putamen is very important to acquire motor skills and participates both in the planning of movements, as in their execution and learning. According to some studies, this region also controls the limb movementIn fact, in an investigation with primates, 50% of the monitored neurons of the putamen were found to be related to arm movement tasks.

In other research with humans, it has been found as to greater extent in the movement Of the people, the greater the activity of this area of ​​the brain next to other areas such as the pale globe. This shows how the putamen is not only involved in the movement but in the task integration working according to other structures. Further, when the putamen and the caudate nucleus were inhibited in other studies through drugs, the learning of new sequential movements was poor.

The putamen and learning

It seems that the putamen plays a great role in many learning processes. One of these is the reinforcement learning, in which, people learn certain behaviors through obtaining rewards. In this type of learning, the dopamine It plays an essential role and the basal ganglia are a fundamental part of the process.

The role of the putamen in the hate circuit

It seems that this structure is also key to feeling the emotions of hate and contempt. In a study of the University of London MRI tests were performed on patients who visualized images of people who found them neutral and people they hated for some reason. The participants had to rate the images according to a scale of greater to lesser aversion. In the results it was found that during contact with the image of the people who produced disgust the activity of the putamen and the insula They were activated. From this it follows that these structures are involved in the emotions of disgust and contempt that prepare the motor system to act in some way.

Putamen-related disorders

When the functioning of the brain suffers from the disease of Parkinson, the thalamus may be affected resulting in involuntary movements or tremors. This also happens with other diseases such as Huntington's disease

In addition, when putamen disruptions occur, it may be the case that the syndrome of the tired legs, which make you feel a sensation of painful shaking in the legs and great need to move them. This disorder can be treated through medications, as well as adequate rest and certain dietary changes, such as eliminating caffeine.

In addition, the putamen is related to other disorders such as Tourette syndrome, the schizophrenia, the depression, the Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, Some anxiety disorders or the obsessive compulsive disorder, among others.

Links of interest



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