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Keeping the body in mind: Insula functional organization and functional connectivity integrate interoceptive, exteroceptive, and emotional awareness

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Abstract

Relatively discrete experimental literatures have grown to support the insula's role in the domains of interoception, focal exteroceptive attention and cognitive control, and the experience of anxiety, even as theoretical accounts have asserted that the insula is a critical zone for integrating across these domains. Here we provide the first experimental demonstration that there exists a functional topography across the insula, with distinct regions in the same participants responding in a highly selective fashion for interoceptive, exteroceptive, and affective processing. Although each insular region is associated with areas of differential resting state functional connectivity relative to the other regions, overall their functional connectivity profiles are quite similar, thereby providing a map of how interoceptive, exteroceptive, and emotional awareness are integrated within the insular cortex. Hum Brain Mapp 34:2944–2958, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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