The Anterior Cingulate Gyrus and Social Cognition: Tracking the Motivation of Others

Neuron. 2016 May 18;90(4):692-707. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.04.018.


The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is implicated in a broad range of behaviors and cognitive processes, but it has been unclear what contribution, if any, the ACC makes to social behavior. We argue that anatomical and functional evidence suggests that a specific sub-region of ACC-in the gyrus (ACCg)-plays a crucial role in processing social information. We propose that the computational properties of the ACCg support a contribution to social cognition by estimating how motivated other individuals are and dynamically updating those estimates when further evidence suggests they have been erroneous. Notably this model, based on vicarious motivation and error processing, provides a unified account of neurophysiological and neuroimaging evidence that the ACCg is sensitive to costs, benefits, and errors during social interactions. Furthermore, it makes specific, testable predictions about a key mechanism that may underpin variability in socio-cognitive abilities in health and disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Social Behavior*