38 Scopus citations


The brain mechanism for controlling continuous behavior in dynamic contexts must mediate action selection and learning across many timescales, responding differentially to the level of environmental uncertainty and volatility. In this review, we argue that a part of the frontal cortex known as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is particularly well suited for this function. First, the ACC is interconnected with prefrontal, parietal, and subcortical regions involved in valuation and action selection. Second, the ACC integrates diverse, behaviorally relevant information across multiple timescales, producing output signals that temporally encapsulate decision and learning processes and encode high-dimensional information about the value and uncertainty of future outcomes and subsequent behaviors. Third, the ACC signals behaviorally relevant information flexibly, displaying the capacity to represent information about current and future states in a valence-, context-, task- and action-specific manner. Fourth, the ACC dynamically controls instrumental- and non-instrumental information seeking behaviors to resolve uncertainty about future outcomes. We review electrophysiological and circuit disruption studies in primates to develop this point, discuss its relationship to novel therapeutics for neuropsychiatric disorders in humans, and conclude by relating ongoing research in primates to studies of medial frontal cortical regions in rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1442-R1454
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 7 2020


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