Striatal direct pathway neurons play leading roles in accelerating rotarod motor skill learning

Bo Liang, Lifeng Zhang, Yan Zhang, Craig T. Werner, Nicholas J. Beacher, Alex J. Denman, Yun Li, Rong Chen, Charles R. Gerfen, Giovanni Barbera, Da Ting Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Dorsal striatum is important for movement control and motor skill learning. However, it remains unclear how the spatially and temporally distributed striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) activity in the direct and indirect pathways (D1 and D2 MSNs, respectively) encodes motor skill learning. Combining miniature fluorescence microscopy with an accelerating rotarod procedure, we identified two distinct MSN subpopulations involved in accelerating rotarod learning. In both D1 and D2 MSNs, we observed neurons that displayed activity tuned to acceleration during early stages of trials, as well as movement speed during late stages of trials. We found a distinct evolution trajectory for early-stage neurons during motor skill learning, with the evolution of D1 MSNs correlating strongly with performance improvement. Importantly, optogenetic inhibition of the early-stage neural activity in D1 MSNs, but not D2 MSNs, impaired accelerating rotarod learning. Together, this study provides insight into striatal D1 and D2 MSNs encoding motor skill learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104245
Issue number5
StatePublished - 20 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological sciences
  • Neuroscience
  • Sensory neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Striatal direct pathway neurons play leading roles in accelerating rotarod motor skill learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this