Keeping the body in mind: Insula functional organization and functional connectivity integrate interoceptive, exteroceptive, and emotional awareness

W. Kyle Simmons, Jason A. Avery, Joel C. Barcalow, Jerzy Bodurka, Wayne C. Drevets, Patrick Bellgowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

150 Scopus citations


Relatively discrete experimental literatures have grown to support the insula's role in the domains of interoception, focal exteroceptive attention and cognitive control, and the experience of anxiety, even as theoretical accounts have asserted that the insula is a critical zone for integrating across these domains. Here we provide the first experimental demonstration that there exists a functional topography across the insula, with distinct regions in the same participants responding in a highly selective fashion for interoceptive, exteroceptive, and affective processing. Although each insular region is associated with areas of differential resting state functional connectivity relative to the other regions, overall their functional connectivity profiles are quite similar, thereby providing a map of how interoceptive, exteroceptive, and emotional awareness are integrated within the insular cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2944-2958
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Anxiety
  • Exteroception
  • Insula
  • Interoception

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