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J Comp Neurol. 1998 Oct 5;399(4):440-68.

Cortical, thalamic, and amygdaloid connections of the anterior and posterior insular cortices.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Cortical, thalamic, and amygdaloid projections of the rat anterior and posterior insular cortices were examined using the anterograde transport of biocytin. Granular and dysgranular posterior insular areas between bregma and 2 mm anterior to bregma projected to the gustatory thalamic nucleus. Granular cortex projected to the subjacent dysgranular cortex which in turn projected to the agranular (all layers) and granular cortices (layers I and VI). Both granular and dysgranular posterior areas projected heavily to the dysgranular anterior insular cortex. Agranular posterior insular cortex projected to medial mediodorsal nucleus, agranular anterior insular and infralimbic cortices as well as granular and dysgranular posterior insula. No projections to the amygdala were observed from posterior granular cortex, although dysgranular cortex projected to the lateral central nucleus, dorsolateral lateral nucleus, and posterior basolateral nucleus. Agranular projections were similar, although they included medial and lateral central nucleus and the ventral lateral nucleus. Dysgranular anterior insular cortex projected to lateral agranular frontal cortex and granular and dysgranular posterior insular regions. Agranular anterior insular cortex projected to the dysgranular anterior and prelimbic cortices. Anterior insuloamygdaloid projections targeted the rostral lateral and anterior basolateral nuclei with sparse projections to the rostral central nucleus. The data suggest that the anterior insula is an interface between the posterior insular cortex and motor cortex and is connected with motor-related amygdala regions. Amygdaloid projections from the posterior insular cortex appear to be organized in a feedforward parallel fashion targeting all levels of the intraamygdaloid connections linking the lateral, basolateral, and central nuclei.

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