Psychiatric Disorders

A number of psychiatric disorders have been linked with abnormalities in the function of the anterior cingulate cortex. Activity is elevated in this region in obsessive-compulsive disorder, tic disorder, and depression, and normalization of activity in this region occurs with behavioral and pharmacological treatment of these disorders in some cases. With severe forms of these disorders, such as with obsessive-compulsive disorder, cingulotomies have been shown to be effective in relieving the symptoms.

Other psychiatric disorders that have been associated with abnormal functioning of the anterior cingulate cortex include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. These patients show reduced activity in portions of the anterior cingulate cortex, particularly in caudal regions. Both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia have been linked with poor dopaminergic modulation of prefrontal circuitry. Given the strong dopaminergic projections to the anterior cingulate cortex, these findings are consistent with a disruption in the modulation of anterior cingulate activity. Finally, individuals with psychopathic or sociopathic behaviors show less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex following errors in performance than do individuals without these characteristics, as evidenced in the ERN literature. This finding is consistent with the cingulate epilepsy literature mentioned previously.

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