Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Cingulate Cortex

Anterior Cingulate Cortex

Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) lies on the medial surface of the cingulate gyrus, wrapping around the anterior portion of the corpus callosum. (Miller; Human Frontal Lobes, 49)

Functional organization of the ACC reflects its central role as an integrated center for the cognitive-behavioral and emotional-autonomic-motor neural networks. (Miller; Human Frontal Lobes, 49)

Diverse functional affiliations of the ACC reflect its widespread connections to the DLPFC. (Miller; Human Frontal Lobes, 49)

Cingulate gyrus is shown in (Hirsch; Neuroanatomy, 214ff)




Cingulate Cortex or (Cingulate Gyrus)

(paraphrase from

   Recent research has brought to light the important functioning of the cingulate cortex.  This cortical area seems to be an intermediary region (located close to the corpus collosum) between the amygdala and orbito-frontal lobe.  The cingulate gyrus is composed of a number of sub-regions.  While the posterior region, like the lateral aspect of the frontal lobes, is more concerned with environmental perception, the anterior region, like the orbitofrontal lobe and medial frontal lobe, is involved with emotions.  One of the most interesting functions of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is to highlight “novelty” as well as “dissonance” between expectations and what really occurs.   In fact, the conscious sense, “something is wrong,” emerges from the cingulate cortex.

    One specific consequence: Obsessive-compulsive patterns are based on automatic thought and action patterns (i.e. FAPs) that stem from a basic feeling, “There is something wrong.”  The compulsive action gives partial relief to the feeling of discomfort.  But the discomfort is not eliminated and will return the moment the action is terminated.  (The cingulate cortex, like its companion orbitofrontal cortex, sends messages for initiating an action to the basal ganglia where FAPs are released.)

    The cingulate cortex receives inputs from various cortical association areas, the amygdala, the hypothalamus and brainstem nuclei that give visceral feedback.  The outputs of the cingulated gyrus are also multiple: to cortical areas, to the Nucleus Accumbens and basal ganglia, to lower subcortical regions such as the hypothalamus, brainstem centers of neuromodulator secretion (tegmentum, locus coeruleus), and the brainstem nuclei of visceral regulation. 

    What is fascinating is that this reproduces input and output schemes that characterize the orbitofrontal lobe and amygdala.  Therefore the brain is repeating circuits and functions.   We can hypothesize several consequences: Fine tuning, complexity, reliability and stability.  The brain must not make errors.  Perhaps this repeating and overlapping of functions, especially when elusive emotions are involved, gives a guarantee that the brain functions will not slip into error.  Too much is at stake: the survival of the organism. 

(end of paraphrase)



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