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Article  May 1, 2014

Synchrony of Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Insular-Striatal Activation Predicts Ambiguity Aversion in Individuals with Low Impulsivity

SRI Authors Tilman Schulte, Adolf Pfefferbaum



Jung, Y.-C., Schulte, T., Mller-Oehring, E. M., Hawkes, W., Namkoong, K., Pfefferbaum, A., & Sullivan, E. V. (2014). Synchrony of anterior cingulate cortex and insular-striatal activation predicts ambiguity aversion in individuals with low impulsivity. Cerebral Cortex, 24(5), 1397-1408.


Personal attitude toward ambiguity contributes to individual differences in decision making in uncertain situations. Operationally, these attitudes reflect the various coping strategies elected to overcome the limited information. A key brain region involved in cognitive control for performance adjustments is the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). To test how dACC functional network connectivity would be modulated by uncertainty and differ between individuals, 24 healthy participants underwent functional MRI in 3 sequential runs: 1 resting-state and 2 decision-making task runs. Individuals with lower nonplanning impulsiveness made greater use of a Pass option and avoided uncertain ambiguous situations. Seed-based functional connectivity analysis during the task runs revealed that stronger activation synchrony between the left dACC and the right anterior insula correlated with greater use of a Pass response option. During the resting-state, stronger resting-state functional connectivity between the left dACC and the ventral striatum predicted the adoption of Pass as a behavioral strategy and correlated with stronger task-activated synchrony between the dACC and the right anterior insula. Our findings indicate that that the synchrony between the dACC and insula-striatal circuitry was greater in individuals with low compared with high nonplanning impulsiveness and contributed to adopting Pass as a useful behavioral strategy.

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