The insula serves as the primary gustatory and viscerosensory region in the mammalian cortex. It receives visceral and gustatory afferent projections through dedicated brainstem and thalamic nuclei, which suggests a potential role as a site for homeostatic integration. For example, while human neuroimaging studies of gustation have implicated the dorsal mid-insular cortex as one of the primary gustatory regions in the insula, other recent studies have implicated this same region of the insula in interoception. This apparent convergence of gustatory and interoceptive information could reflect a common neural representation in the insula shared by both interoception and gustation. This idea finds support in translational studies in rodents, and may constitute a medium for integrating homeostatic information with feeding behavior. To assess this possibility, healthy volunteers were asked to undergo fMRI while performing tasks involving interoceptive attention to visceral sensations as well as a gustatory mapping task. Analysis of the unsmoothed, high-resolution fMRI data confirmed shared representations of gustatory and visceral interoception within the dorsal mid-insula. Group conjunction analysis revealed overlapping patterns of activation for both tasks in the dorsal mid-insula, and region-of-interest analyses confirmed that the dorsal mid-insula regions responsive for visceral interoception also exhibit strong responses to tastants. Hum Brain Mapp 36:2996–3006, 2015.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Human Brain Mapping|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2015|