Electronic versions

  • Lauren Cloutman
    University of Manchester
  • Richard J Binney
    University of Manchester
  • Mark Drakesmith
    University of Manchester
  • Geoffrey J M Parker
    University of Manchester
  • Matthew A Lambon Ralph
    University of Manchester

The human insula is a functionally complex yet poorly understood region of the cortex, implicated in a wide range of cognitive, motor, emotion and somatosensory activity. To elucidate the functional role of the insula, the current study used in vivo probabilistic tractography to map the structural connectivity of seven anatomically-defined insular subregions. The connectivity patterns identified reveal two complementary insular networks connected via a dual route architecture, and provide key insights about the neural basis of the numerous functions ascribed to this area. Specifically, anterior-most insular regions were associated with a ventrally-based network involving orbital/inferior frontal and anterior/polar temporal regions, forming part of a key emotional salience and cognitive control network associated with the implementation of goal-directed behavior. The posterior and dorsal-middle insular regions were associated with a network focused on posterior and (to a lesser extent) anterior temporal regions via both dorsal and ventral pathways. This is consistent with the involvement of the insula in sound-to-speech transformations, with an implicated role in the temporal resolution, sequencing, and feedback processes crucial for auditory and motor processing, and the monitoring and adjustment of expressive performance.


  • Diffusion, Dual route, Functional specialization, Neural networks, White matter
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3514-21
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes
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