What is the cingulate gyrus?

The cingulate gyrus is an arch-shaped structure in the center of the brain, which is known as the cingulate cortex. This structure is also known as the gyrus callosum in some texts due to its position directly above the corpus callosum. Commonly associated with cognitive flexibility, stimulation studies have found that this structure is responsible for emotional sensations such as fear, anxiety, or pleasure, and the physical responses associated with those emotions.

Animal studies show variation in the thickness and presence of the cingulate gyrus throughout the animal kingdom. It is associated with communication, sociability and maternal behavior. The more developed the cingulate gyrus in an animal, the more clearly it expresses language and attachment. In particular, reptiles and amphibians, which probably eat their young, completely lack this neurological structure.

This part of the brain's main function is to facilitate cognitive adaptability in humans. The cingulate gyrus helps people be flexible in learning and processing new situations. Cues from this structure help people understand how to alter behavior in a variety of situations or across different social environments. For example, people tend to behave differently when displaying their professionalism in job interviews than they do as spectators at a hockey game.

Adaptability, as influenced by this part of the brain, is an invaluable tool for successfully navigating an unpredictable social world. A properly functioning cingulate gyrus helps people recognize their alternatives, such as selecting a menu item from a wide range of options or determining the pros and cons of taking on a new job. This promotes lifelong learning and helps a person grow throughout life. The cingulate gyrus, when working properly, helps people organize realistic goals and promotes future-oriented thinking.

Incorrect functioning in the cingulate gyrus can cause a number of disorders related to cognitive inflexibility. Worry, argumentation, and road rage are among the problems related to this area of ​​the brain. Rather than learn from an embarrassing, frustrating, or hurtful life experience, those with functional problems in this part of the brain are likely to dwell on negative feelings. Similarly, if this structure is overactive, a person might tend to say "no" without hearing the question. Abnormal function in the cingulate gyrus and its related structures can be caused by stress or brain trauma.

Cingulate gyrus dysfunction is not a medical diagnosis but occurs in other recognized disorders. This area of ​​the brain deals with thought patterns, so cognitive problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and addictions are linked to this neurological component. These diagnoses share a common "stuck" quality that is indicative of hyperactivity in this brain structure. Some research has indicated that this area of ​​the brain is abnormally stimulated in cases of autism. Problems related to the cingulate gyrus are often treated with antidepressant medications.

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