The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Cingulate Gyrus

Brain1. The evolutionary new wing of the mammalian brain, in charge of grooming, nuzzling, and cuddle cues. 2. The newest part of the limbic system, responsible formaternal caringplay, and audiovocal signals (Hooper 1986:48).

Usage: As the brain's maternal and childcare center, the cingulate gyrus mediates many of the nonverbal cues we give a. to babies, b. to small children, and c. to adults for whom we truly care (see LOVE SIGNAL) and care for.

Anatomy. Located on the medial surface of the cerebral cortex (in the frontal and parietal lobes, above the corpus callosum), the cingulate gyrus receives a. subcortical signals from the thalamus (anterior nucleus) and b. cortical signals from modules of the cerebral cortex as well. It sends signals to the parahippocampal gyrus through a broad-band fiberlink called the cingulum.

RESEARCH REPORTS1. "The posterior superior part of the cingulate gyrus is related to sexual behavior" and is also linked to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder; Diamond, Scheibel, and Elson 1985:5, 30). 2. "It is of interest that stimulation and ablation of the cingulate gyrus result in a diverse range of emotional experiences corresponding to those described . . . for the amygdala and septum. It can be assumed that the cingulate gyrus acts as an intermediary to the prefrontal cortex and orbital cortices . . ." (Eccles 1989:106). 3. "Emotion-related movement [see, e.g., SMILE], then, is controlled from the anterior cingulate region, from other limbic cortices (in the medial temporal lobe), and from the basal ganglia . . ." (Damasio 1994:140-41). 4. "We cannot mimic easily what the anterior cingulate can achieve effortlessly . . ." (Damasio 1994:141-42). 5. "Its location makes the cingulate cortex an excellent candidate for the brain's emotional control centre, which is what it seems to be" (Carter 1998:101).

Neuro-notes I1. The cingulate gyrus is less tied to smell than is any other part of the limbic system, according to Paul MacLean, and has no counterpart in the reptilian brain2. The anterior cingulate gyrus communicates between the prefrontal cortex and subcortical areas of the limbic system; bilateral destruction ". . . releases the rage centers of the septum and hypothalamus from any prefrontal inhibitory influence" (Guyton 1996:759). 3. "We suggest that cells in the rostral cingulate motor area, one of the higher order motor areas in the cortex, play a part in processing the reward information for motor selection" ("Role for Cingulate Motor Area Cells in Voluntary Movement Selection Based on Reward," Keisetsu Shima and Jun Tanji, Science, Nov. 13, 1998, vol. 282, p. 1335). 4. "Anatomical studies have revealed prominent afferent input to the CMAs [cingulate motor areas] from the limbic structures and the prefrontal cortex, which can send information about motivation and the internal state of subjects, as well as cognitive evaluation of the environment" (Shima and Tanji1998:1335). 5. "When a person with a hand-washing compulsion is told to imagine themselves [sic] in some filthy place their caudate nucleus and orbital frontal cortex fire away like mad. An area in the middle of the brain--the cingulate cortex--also responds strongly. This is the part of the brain that registers conscious emotion, and its involvement demonstrates the emotional discomfort generated by OCD" (Carter 1998:61).

Neuro-notes II. Recent MRI research by UCLA graduate student Naomi I. Eisenberg and co-authors, published in the Oct. 10, 2003 edition of Science (Vol. 302, No. 5643), suggest links between emotions and the anterior cingulate cortex. Eisenberg finds similarities between social pain (e.g., hurt feelings, being snubbed) and physical pain (e.g., being kicked in the guts). She also suggests connections to the visceral brain.


Drawing of "Showing My Nonverbal Side" by my son Aaron Huffman (copyright 2012 by Aaron M. Huffman)