Practice explains abolished behavioural adaptation after human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex lesions

H. van Steenbergen, E. Haasnoot, B. R. Bocanegra, E. W. Berretty, B. Hommel

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The role of mid-cingulate cortex (MCC), also referred to as dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, in regulating cognitive control is a topic of primary importance in cognitive neuroscience. Although many studies have shown that MCC responds to cognitive demands, lesion studies in humans are inconclusive concerning the causal role of the MCC in the adaptation to these demands. By elegantly combining single-cell recordings with behavioural methods, Sheth et al. [Sheth, S. et al. Human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex neurons mediate ongoing behavioural adaptation. Nature 488, 218–22 (2012).] recently were able to show that neurons in MCC encode cognitive demand. Importantly, this study also claimed that focal lesions of the MCC abolished behavioural adaptation to cognitive demands. Here we show that the absence of post-cingulotomy behavioural adaptation reported in this study may have been due to practice effects. We run a control condition where we tested subjects before and after a dummy treatment, which substituted cingulotomy with a filler task (presentation of a documentary). The results revealed abolished behavioural adaptation following the dummy treatment. Our findings suggest that future work using proper experimental designs is needed to advance the understanding of the causal role of the MCC in behavioural adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9721
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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