Anterior cingulate signals errors of attentional control before prefrontal-cingulate inhibition

Here, we tested this prediction by recording cells in the dACC and lateral prefrontal cortex (latPFC) of macaques performing an attention task that dissociated 3 processing stages. We found that, across prefrontal subareas, the dACC contained the largest cell populations encoding errors indicating (1) failures of inhibitory control of the attentional focus, (2) failures to prevent bottom-up distraction, and (3) lapses when implementing a choice. Error-locked firing in the dACC showed the earliest latencies across the PFC, emerged earlier than reward omission signals, and involved a significant proportion of putative inhibitory interneurons. Moreover, early onset error-locked response enhancement in the dACC was followed by transient prefrontal-cingulate inhibition, possibly reflecting active disengagement from task processing.