The Structural and Functional Signature of Action Control

Psychol Sci. 2018 Oct;29(10):1620-1630. doi: 10.1177/0956797618779380. Epub 2018 Aug 17.


Individuals differ in their ability to initiate self- and emotional-control mechanisms. These differences have been explicitly described in Kuhl's action-control theory. Although interindividual differences in action control make a major contribution to our everyday life, their neural foundation remains unknown. Here, we measured action control in a sample of 264 healthy adults and related interindividual differences in action control to variations in brain structure and resting-state connectivity. Our results demonstrate a significant negative correlation between decision-related action orientation (AOD) and amygdala volume. Further, we showed that the functional resting-state connectivity between the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex was significantly associated with AOD. Specifically, stronger functional connectivity was associated with higher AOD scores. These findings are the first to show that interindividual differences in action control, namely AOD, are based on the anatomical architecture and functional network of the amygdala.

Keywords: action control; amygdala volume; anterior cingulate cortex; functional connectivity; resting-state fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Rest
  • Young Adult