The Anterior Cingulate: a Cortex in Competition


The anterior cingulate figures in much research on addiction, OCD, schizophrenia, ADHD, social anxiety, and depression. Here, Scientific American looks at its apparent connection with activity involving competition.

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Note from Kermit Cole, “In the News” editor;
I think that it is possible and worthwhile to reflect on the research and theory involving the brain and behavior, as this article does, without coming to any conclusions about the direction of causality or the characterization of human behavior or the human psyche. At the very least, it’s interesting and worthwhile to be familiar with how research is being done, if only to be better positioned to critique it. At best, something actually illuminating may arise, even if it is completely independent of the researchers’ original intent.
As this article says, research is conducted in something of a vacuum: done with humility, the conclusions are drawn very carefully. In looking for articles for MIA, I have often seen research that was trumpeted in the media as though it were the final answer to all our questions, only to eventually find that the researchers themselves present a much more circumspect and rationally constrained view of what their research can be construed to imply. Not always, but enough to remind us that it’s not always the researchers’ hubris that we see in the media; it’s just the media’s own agenda playing out.
In any event, I’m just including this article and future ones like it as food for thought; not to suggest one way or another any conclusions about where the seat of human experience or behavior lies. I believe that we can never predict where we will find the insight or inspiration that unlocks mysteries for us; without getting too precious (or reductivist) about it, I might put it as William Blake did:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.



  1. New here – great site! I just linked this post to “Overfocusing: Cognitive Inflexibility and the Cingulate Gyrus” on I’ll be back.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – cofounder of the ADD Coaching field –
    (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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