Anterior Cingulate Cortex

Last update: September 13, 2022
By BrainMatters


The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is involved in a variety of cognitive functions, but especially in tasks where cognitive conflicts must be overcome. This area is also involved in attention, and choice making.


The ACC is associated with various cognitive functions, such as adapting to rewards, making decisions, empathy, and emotion. BA 32 is involved in error detection, among other things. Thus, the area becomes active the moment you notice that you have made an error in a task where you have to answer very quickly, for example.

A typical way to activate the cingulate cortex is by performing a task in which an error is elicited. You can think of the Stroop task, in which you have to name the color of the ink of words, instead of the words themselves. In this task, a conflict takes place between reading skills and the attempts to name the color of the ink.


BA 32 is part of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. This is the anterior part of the cingulate cortex, an area folded around the corpus callosum.


Around the 2008 U.S. election, there was a lot of buzz around a study in London that reported a one-way relationship between the size of BA 32 and political orientation. The larger BA 32, the more left-wing a person's political affiliation would be. Without going into this particular study, it is advisable to be cautious with this type of result: one study does not make a truth.


Damage to this area is associated with a host of different symptoms, including not being able to detect errors, being inattentive, and difficulty with conflict tasks such as the Stroop task. People with attention disorder ADHD also show less activity in this brain region while performing cognitive tasks.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Thomas von Rein)

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