Anterior cingulate cortex: A brain system necessary for learning to reward others?

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Helping a friend move house, donating to charity, volunteering assistance during a crisis. Humans and other species alike regularly undertake prosocial behaviors-actions that benefit others without necessarily helping ourselves. But how does the brain learn what acts are prosocial? Basile and colleagues show that removal of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) prevents monkeys from learning what actions are prosocial but does not stop them carrying out previously learned prosocial behaviors. This highlights that the ability to learn what actions are prosocial and choosing to perform helpful acts may be distinct cognitive processes, with only the former depending on ACC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3000735
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Biosciences and Biotechnology Research Council David Phillips Fellowship to MAJA (BB/R010668/ 1), a Medical Research Council Fellowship to PLL (MR/P014097/1), and a Marshall Scholarship to KO. The funders had no role in decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2020 Lockwood et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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