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Cereb Cortex. 2017 Feb 1;27(2):1216-1228. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv308.

The Corticocortical Structural Connectivity of the Human Insula.

Author information

Département de Neurosciences.
Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada.
BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Center, Pasqual Maragall Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.
Département de Radiologie, CHUM hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, QC, Canada.
Centre de recherche du CHU Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Montréal, QC, Canada.
Sherbrooke Connectivity Imaging Lab (SCIL), Computer Science department, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.
Centre de recherche en neuropsychologie et cognition, Département de Psychologie.
MR Clinical Science, Philips Healthcare, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Département de Stomatologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada.
Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada.
Service de Neurologie, CHUM Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, QC, Canada.


The insula is a complex structure involved in a wide range of functions. Tracing studies on nonhuman primates reveal a wide array of cortical connections in the frontal (orbitofrontal and prefrontal cortices, cingulate areas and supplementary motor area), parietal (primary and secondary somatosensory cortices) and temporal (temporal pole, auditory, prorhinal and entorhinal cortices) lobes. However, recent human tractography studies have not observed connections between the insula and the cingulate cortices, although these structures are thought to be functionally intimately connected. In this work, we try to unravel the structural connectivity between these regions and other known functionally connected structures, benefiting from a higher number of subjects and the latest state-of-the-art high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) tractography algorithms with anatomical priors. By performing an HARDI tractography analysis on 46 young normal adults, our study reveals a wide array of connections between the insula and the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes as well as limbic regions, with a rostro-caudal organization in line with tracing studies in macaques. Notably, we reveal for the first time in humans a clear structural connectivity between the insula and the cingulate, parahippocampal, supramarginal and angular gyri as well as the precuneus and occipital regions.


cingulate; diffusion; insula; insular cortex; tractography

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