Anterior cingulate cortex ablation disrupts affective vigor and vigilance

Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Anthony C. Santistevan, Jeffrey Bennett, Gilda Moadab, David G. Amaral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Despite many observations of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity related to cognition and affect in humans and nonhuman animals, little is known about the causal role of the ACC in psychological processes. Here, we investigate the causal role of the ACC in affective responding to threat in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), a species with an ACC largely homologous to humans in structure and connectivity. Male adult monkeys received bilateral ibotenate axon-sparing lesions to the ACC (sulcus and gyrus of areas 24, 32, and 25) and were tested in two classic tasks of monkey threat processing: The human intruder and object responsiveness tasks. Monkeys with ACC lesions did not significantly differ from controls in their overall mean reactivity toward threatening or novel stimuli. However, while control monkeys maintained their reactivity across test days, monkeys with ACC lesions reduced their reactivity toward stimuli as days advanced. Critically, this attenuated reactivity was found even when the stimuli presented each day were novel, suggesting that ACC lesions did not simply cause accelerated adaptation to stimuli as they became less novel over repeated presentations. Rather, these results imply that the primate ACC is necessary for maintaining appropriate affective responses toward potentially harmful and/or novel stimuli. These findings therefore have implications for mood disorders in which responding to threat and novelty is disrupted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8075-8087
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ACC
  • Affective reactivity
  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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