Refining our understanding of adaptive control

Our collaborative project with Jim Cavanagh (University of New Mexico) was accepted for publication at the Journal of Physiology, Paris as part of a Special Issue focused on “Neural circuits for the adaptive control of behaviour,” edited by Jerome Sallet, Sebastien Bouret, Mark Laubach, and Dan Shulz. In the paper, Jim and I provide meta-analytic evidence that scalp-recorded control signals thought to be generated in the mid-cingulate cortex (MCC), such as the error-related negativity and N2, are consistently enhanced in dispositionally anxious individuals; and predict a more cautious, avoidant, and inhibited style of behavior following errors and punishment. The meta-analysis incorporated studies of more than 2,000 research subjects, enhancing our confidence in these results. These observations reinforce the idea that a circuit centered on the MCC plays a central role in regulating behavior in the face of uncertainty about instrumental actions and their potentially aversive outcomes and set the stage for future research aimed at delineating the neural mechanisms underlying the maladaptive profile of choices and actions characteristic of many individuals with elevated anxiety.


Cavanagh, J. F. & Shackman, A. J. (in press). Frontal midline theta reflects anxiety and cognitive control: Meta-analytic evidence. Journal of Physiology, Paris.”