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Cereb Cortex. 2011 Jul;21(7):1498-506. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq186. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

Three systems of insular functional connectivity identified with cluster analysis.

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Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Despite much research on the function of the insular cortex, few studies have investigated functional subdivisions of the insula in humans. The present study used resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to parcellate the human insular lobe based on clustering of functional connectivity patterns. Connectivity maps were computed for each voxel in the insula based on resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) data and segregated using cluster analysis. We identified 3 insular subregions with distinct patterns of connectivity: a posterior region, functionally connected with primary and secondary somatomotor cortices; a dorsal anterior to middle region, connected with dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, along with other regions of a previously described control network; and a ventral anterior region, primarily connected with pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. Applying these regions to a separate task data set, we found that dorsal and ventral anterior insula responded selectively to disgusting images, while posterior insula did not. These results demonstrate that clustering of connectivity patterns can be used to subdivide cerebral cortex into anatomically and functionally meaningful subregions; the insular regions identified here should be useful in future investigations on the function of the insula.

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