The integration of negative affect, pain and cognitive control in the cingulate cortex

Alexander J. Shackman, Tim V. Salomons, Heleen A. Slagter, Andrew S. Fox, Jameel J. Winter, Richard J. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1375 Scopus citations


It has been argued that emotion, pain and cognitive control are functionally segregated in distinct subdivisions of the cingulate cortex. However, recent observations encourage a fundamentally different view. Imaging studies demonstrate that negative affect, pain and cognitive control activate an overlapping region of the dorsal cingulate - the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC). Anatomical studies reveal that the aMCC constitutes a hub where information about reinforcers can be linked to motor centres responsible for expressing affect and executing goal-directed behaviour. Computational modelling and other kinds of evidence suggest that this intimacy reflects control processes that are common to all three domains. These observations compel a reconsideration of the dorsal cingulate's contribution to negative affect and pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-167
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior staff A. Dinndorf, M. Fox, L. Friedman, L. Hinsenkamp, A. Koppenhaver, A. Laird, B. Nacewicz, D. Rebedew and J.E. Shackman for assistance; M.X. Cohen, W. Irwin, S. Nieuwenhuis, J. Oler, and T. Yarkoni for feedback; and G. Bush for providing details of the meta-analysis described in reference 14. This work was supported by the European Commission (Marie Curie Reintegration Grant to H.A.S.), the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain (Clinician-Scientist award to T.V.S.), Fetzer Foundation (R.J.D.), and National Institute of Mental Health (P50-MH069315, P50-MH084051 and R01-MH43454 (R.J.D.); A.J.S. was partially supported by R01-MH064498 (B.R. Postle); A.S.F. was supported by T32-MH018931 (R.J.D.)).


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