Grey Matter Volumes in the Executive Attention System Predict Individual Differences in Effortful Control in Young Adults

Luqing Wei, Nana Guo, Chris Baeken, Minghua Bi, Xiaowan Wang, Jiang Qiu, Guo-Rong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Effortful control (EC), considered as one component of temperament, describes an individual's capacity for self-regulation. Previous neuroimaging studies have provided convergent evidence that individual differences in EC are determined by the functioning of neural systems subserving executive attention, primarily comprising the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). Notwithstanding, as previous neuroimaging findings highlighted the structural neural bases of EC in adolescence, during which the PFC is prominently remodeled, the underlying neuroanatomical substrates of EC remain uncertain in young adults. In this study, we included 246 healthy young adults and used voxel-based morphometry analysis to investigate the relationship between EC and grey matter (GM) volumes. Additionally, permutation testing and cross-validation were applied to determine whether GM volumes in the detected regions could predict individual differences in EC. Our results revealed that EC was associated with GM volumes in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), demonstrating that these two regions may play a crucial role in EC. Furthermore, the identified regional GM volumes reliably contribute to the prediction of EC confirmed by cross-validation. Overall, these findings provide further evidence for the involvement of the executive attention system in EC, and shed more light on the neuroanatomical substrates of EC in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
Journal Brain Topography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019


  • Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex
  • Effortful control
  • Pre-supplementary motor area
  • Voxel-based morphometry


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