Preparatory activity and connectivity in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex for cognitive control

Neuroimage. 2011 Jul 1;57(1):242-250. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.04.023. Epub 2011 Apr 16.


Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is composed of functionally distinct subregions that may contribute to the top-down control of response selection and preparation. Multiple motor areas have been identified in dACC, including an anterior zone implicated in conflict monitoring and a caudal zone involved in movement execution. This study tested the involvement of a third cingulate area, the posterior zone of dACC, in the top-down control of response selection and preparation. Sixteen healthy young adults were scanned with event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a cued go/no-go task that was designed to minimize response conflicts. The activation and functional connectivity of dACC were tested with standard convolution models and psychophysiological interaction analyses, respectively. Ready cues that informed the direction of the impending response triggered preparatory neural activity in the posterior zone of dACC and strengthened functional connectivity with the anterior and caudal zones of dACC, as well as perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, frontal operculum, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, sensory association cortices, and extra-pyramidal motor areas. The preparatory cues activated dACC above and beyond the general arousing effects common to cues despite negligible conflict in the go/no-go task. The integration of cognitive, sensorimotor, and incentive signals in dACC places the region in an ideal position to select and prepare appropriate behavioral responses to achieve higher-level goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Young Adult