Cingulate cortex: diverging data from humans and monkeys

Trends Neurosci. 2009 Nov;32(11):566-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2009.07.001. Epub 2009 Sep 24.


Cognitive neuroscience research relies, in part, on homologies between the brains of human and non-human primates. A quandary therefore arises when presumed anatomical homologues exhibit different functional properties. Such a situation has recently arisen in the case of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). In humans, numerous studies suggest a role for ACC in detecting conflicts in information processing. Studies of macaque monkey ACC, in contrast, have failed to find conflict-related responses. We consider several interpretations of this discrepancy, including differences in research methodology and cross-species differences in functional neuroanatomy. New directions for future research are outlined, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing illusory cross-species differences from the true evolutionary differences that make our species unique.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Problem Solving / physiology*