The cingulum bundle: Anatomy, function, and dysfunction

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The cingulum bundle is a prominent white matter tract that interconnects frontal, parietal, and medial temporal sites, while also linking subcortical nuclei to the cingulate gyrus. Despite its apparent continuity, the cingulum’s composition continually changes as fibres join and leave the bundle. To help understand its complex structure, this review begins with detailed, comparative descriptions of the multiple connections comprising the cingulum bundle. Next, the impact of cingulum bundle damage in rats, monkeys, and humans is analysed. Despite causing extensive anatomical disconnections, cingulum bundle lesions typically produce only mild deficits, highlighting the importance of parallel pathways and the distributed nature of its various functions. Meanwhile, non-invasive imaging implicates the cingulum bundle in executive control, emotion, pain (dorsal cingulum), and episodic memory (parahippocampal cingulum), while clinical studies reveal cingulum abnormalities in numerous conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the seemingly diverse contributions of the cingulum will require better ways of isolating pathways within this highly complex tract.

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