The cingulate cortex and limbic systems for emotion, action, and memory

Brain Struct Funct. 2019 Dec;224(9):3001-3018. doi: 10.1007/s00429-019-01945-2. Epub 2019 Aug 26.


Evidence is provided for a new conceptualization of the connectivity and functions of the cingulate cortex in emotion, action, and memory. The anterior cingulate cortex receives information from the orbitofrontal cortex about reward and non-reward outcomes. The posterior cingulate cortex receives spatial and action-related information from parietal cortical areas. It is argued that these inputs allow the cingulate cortex to perform action-outcome learning, with outputs from the midcingulate motor area to premotor areas. In addition, because the anterior cingulate cortex connects rewards to actions, it is involved in emotion; and because the posterior cingulate cortex has outputs to the hippocampal system, it is involved in memory. These apparently multiple different functions of the cingulate cortex are related to the place of this proisocortical limbic region in brain connectivity.

Keywords: Cingulate cortex; Depression; Emotion; Hippocampus; Limbic systems; Memory; Orbitofrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reward