The role of anterior and midcingulate cortex in emotional awareness: A domain-general processing perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


The cingulate cortex has been implicated in a wide range of overlapping cognitive, affective, skeletomotor, and visceromotor functions. In this chapter, we focus on the role of the anterior and midcingulate cortex (ACC and MCC) in facilitating a person's ability to recognize and understand his or her own emotions. Here, we illustrate how this ability—often referred to as “emotional awareness” (EA)—may require integration across each of the aforementioned functions. To appropriately situate the role of the cingulate in EA, we first summarize a number of studies that have highlighted ACC/MCC engagement in the context of emotion. We then describe prominent domain-general views of the ACC (in interaction with MCC), which together suggest that it may serve as a hub within a high-level visceromotor control system. This high-level system functions to predict and mobilize the required metabolic resources in a given situation via the integration of multimodal information available from both sensory cortices and memory. Based on this work, we show that EA can be seen as an important consequence of this integrative process and how it can help to explain the adaptive nature of such advanced emotional capacities. We close by briefly considering the potential clinical relevance of understanding ACC/MCC function and its specific role in emotion and awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • Action selection
  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Emotion
  • Emotion-cognition interactions
  • Emotional awareness
  • Midcingulate cortex
  • Motivation
  • Predictive processing
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Visceromotor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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