Anterior cingulate activity during error and autonomic response

Neuroimage. 2005 Oct 1;27(4):885-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.05.047.


The contribution of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to human cognition remains unclear. The rostral (rACC) and dorsal (dACC) ACC cortex are implicated in tasks that require increased response control due to emotional and cognitive interference, respectively. However, both rACC and dACC are activated by conditions that induce changes in visceral arousal, suggesting that ACC supports a generation of integrated bodily responses. To clarify the relationship between purely cognitive and psychophysiological accounts of ACC function, we scanned 15 subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging while they performed numerical versions of the Stroop task. To index autonomic arousal, we simultaneously measured pupil diameter. Performance errors accounted for most of the variance in a pupil-derived measure of evoked autonomic arousal. In analysis of the functional imaging data, activity within a region spanning rACC and dACC predicted trial-by-trial variation in autonomic response magnitude and was enhanced during error trials, shown using conjunction analyses. Activity within other loci within rACC predicted evoked autonomic arousal and showed sensitivity to errors but did not meet criteria for both. These data highlight the role of ACC in psychophysiological aspects of error processing and suggest that an interface exists within ACC between cognitive and biobehavioral systems in the service of response adaptation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reflex, Pupillary / physiology