Activation in the rostral-ventral anterior cingulate cortex has been observed in normal subjects under a variety of conditions, including (1) when asked to recall sad memories and to view faces with sad expressions compared with recalling neutral memories and viewing neutral faces; (2) when anticipating an upcoming painful electric shock compared with resting activation; and (3) when exposed to scenes or words with emotional content compared with scenes and words with neutral content. Corresponding activations are observed in symptom provocation studies involving phobic, anxious, and obsessive-compulsive patients. These tasks have been characterized as having affective, emotional content, and therefore it is unsurprising that activations in the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex are commonly observed to co-occur with those in the anterior cingulate cortex. Often these paradigms require the subject to induce an affective state or think of emotional information that is contrary to the subject's current affective state. Moreover, some of these paradigms require the subject to attend to nonaffective attributes such as the color of an emotionally salient word (e.g., "Murder") rather than the word itself. Performance on such tasks is worst when the stimuli have emotional content versus neutral content and the rostral-ventral anterior cin-gulate cortex is activated

Deactivation in the rostral-ventral anterior cingulate cortex—often accompanied by deactivation in orbitofrontal and amygdala regions—has been observed in many of the attention-demanding tasks found to activate caudal regions of the anterior cingulate cortex. For example, Wayne Drevets of the National Institute of Mental Health and Marchus Raichle of Washington University have shown decreased activity in the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, and orbitofrontal cortex—all areas implicated in emotional processing—during the performance of demanding cognitive tasks. Conversely, they have shown decreases in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity—areas implicated in cognitive processing—during emotion-related tasks.

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