Basal ganglia

Dr Tim Luijkx and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

The basal ganglia (singular: ganglion) are a group of grey matter nuclei in the deep aspects of the brain that is interconnected with the cerebral cortex, thalami and brainstem.

In a strict anatomical sense, it contains three paired nuclei that together comprise the corpus striatum:

Functionally, two additional nuclei are also part of the basal ganglia:

The basal ganglia are normally isodense/isointense to the cortex. Because the globus pallidus has more myelin content compared with the putamen, it usually appears slightly more hypointense on T2WI, GRE, and SWI images. Age-related calcium deposition in the globus pallidus initially results in increased T1 signal intensity and subsequently, when calcification exceeds 40%, signal loss in all sequences. Aging with consequent iron deposition in the putamen results in a gradual decrease of T2/T2*/SWI signal intensity in the putamen. This is more pronounced in the 8th or 9th decade of life.

Anatomy: Brain
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Article information

rID: 5822
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: basal ganglia
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  • Figure 2: brainstem nuclei and their connections
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  • Figure 3: Organisational structure of basal ganglia
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