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Brain Connect. 2016 Nov;6(9):724-734. Epub 2016 Sep 30.

Hemispheric Lateralization of Resting-State Functional Connectivity of the Anterior Insula: Association with Age, Gender, and a Novelty-Seeking Trait.

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1 Department of Psychology, State University of New York , Stony Brook, New York.
2 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, Connecticut.
3 Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, Connecticut.
4 Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, Connecticut.


Resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) is widely used to examine cerebral functional organization. The imaging literature has described lateralization of insula activations during cognitive and affective processing. Evidence appears to support a role of the right-hemispheric insula in attentional orientation to salient stimulus, interoception, and physiological arousal, and a role of the left-hemispheric insula in cognitive and affective control, as well as perspective taking. In this study, in a large data set of healthy adults, we examined lateralization of the rsFC of the anterior insula (AI) by computing a laterality index (LI) of connectivity with 54 regions from the Automated Anatomic Labeling atlas. At a corrected threshold (p < 0.001), the AI is left lateralized in connectivity with the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, inferior frontal cortex, and posterior orbital gyrus and right lateralized in connectivity with the postcentral gyrus, supramarginal gyrus, and superior parietal lobule. In gender differences, women, but not men, showed right-lateralized connectivity to the thalamus. Furthermore, in a subgroup of participants assessed by the tridimensional personality questionnaire, novelty seeking is correlated with the extent of left lateralization of AI connectivity to the pallidum and putamen in men and with the extent of right lateralization of AI connectivity to the parahippocampal gyrus in women. These findings support hemispheric functional differentiation of the AI.


aging; hemisphericity; insula; laterality; rsFC; sex difference

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