The role of the anterior cingulate in automatic and controlled processes: a developmental neuroanatomical study

Dev Psychobiol. 1997 Jan;30(1):61-9.


This study examines the role of the anterior cingulate in the development of attention. Task performance relying predominantly on either automatic or controlled processes was correlated with magnetic resonance imaging based measures of the anterior cingulate in 26 normal children ages 5 to 16 years. Attentional measures were assessed with a visual discrimination paradigm. Parasagittal slices from a 3-D, T1-weighted volume data set were used to obtain area measurements of the anterior cingulate. Response latencies decreased with age for both tasks. There were significant correlations between attentional performance and right, but not left, anterior cingulate measures. Performance was faster and more accurate during trials requiring predominantly controlled processes for those children with larger right anterior cingulate measures. The results are consistent with adult neuroimaging findings of activation in the right anterior cingulate during attention tasks and with lesion studies implicating greater right hemisphere involvement in attentional processes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values