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Nat Neurosci. 2016 Sep 27;19(10):1286-91. doi: 10.1038/nn.4384.

Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the value of control.

Shenhav A1,2,3, Cohen JD1,4, Botvinick MM1,4,5,6.

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Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Brown Institute for Brain Science, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Google DeepMind, London, UK.
Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London, London, UK.


Debates over the function(s) of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) have persisted for decades. So too have demonstrations of the region's association with cognitive control. Researchers have struggled to account for this association and, simultaneously, dACC's involvement in phenomena related to evaluation and motivation. We describe a recent integrative theory that achieves this goal. It proposes that dACC serves to specify the currently optimal allocation of control by determining the overall expected value of control (EVC), thereby licensing the associated cognitive effort. The EVC theory accounts for dACC's sensitivity to a wide array of experimental variables, and their relationship to subsequent control adjustments. Finally, we contrast our theory with a recent theory proposing a primary role for dACC in foraging-like decisions. We describe why the EVC theory offers a more comprehensive and coherent account of dACC function, including dACC's particular involvement in decisions regarding foraging or otherwise altering one's behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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