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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011 Mar;12(3):154-67. doi: 10.1038/nrn2994.

The integration of negative affect, pain and cognitive control in the cingulate cortex.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, WI 53706, USA.


It has been argued that emotion, pain and cognitive control are functionally segregated in distinct subdivisions of the cingulate cortex. However, recent observations encourage a fundamentally different view. Imaging studies demonstrate that negative affect, pain and cognitive control activate an overlapping region of the dorsal cingulate--the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC). Anatomical studies reveal that the aMCC constitutes a hub where information about reinforcers can be linked to motor centres responsible for expressing affect and executing goal-directed behaviour. Computational modelling and other kinds of evidence suggest that this intimacy reflects control processes that are common to all three domains. These observations compel a reconsideration of the dorsal cingulate's contribution to negative affect and pain.

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