Impairments of attention after cingulotomy

Neurology. 1999 Sep 11;53(4):819-24. doi: 10.1212/wnl.53.4.819.


Background: Outcome studies have generally not indicated significant cognitive disturbances after cingulotomy. There is now considerable evidence that the cingulate may play an important role in emotional behavior and attention.

Objective: To characterize impairments of attention associated with bilateral lesions of the anterior cingulate cortex produced by cingulotomy.

Methods: Twelve patients who underwent cingulotomy for treatment of intractable pain were administered tests of attention, executive functions, response intention and production, and a broad range of other neurocognitive functions before surgery and again 3 and 12 months after surgery. Data from this within-subjects repeated-measures design were analyzed by multivariate analysis of variance procedures.

Results: After cingulotomy, patients initially had executive and attentional impairments. By 12 months, these had resolved into more circumscribed deficits, with greatest impairments on tasks requiring intention and spontaneous response production, and milder impairments of focused and sustained attention. Other aspects of attention and other cognitive functions were generally unaffected.

Conclusion: The anterior cingulate cortex modulates response intention and focused attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Pain, Intractable / surgery*