Dissociable large-scale networks anchored in the right anterior insula subserve affective experience and attention

Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 02/2012; 60(4):1947-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.012
Source: PubMed


Meta-analytic summaries of neuroimaging studies point to at least two major functional-anatomic subdivisions within the anterior insula that contribute to the detection and processing of salient information: a dorsal region that is routinely active during attention tasks and a ventral region that is routinely active during affective experience. In two independent samples of cognitively normal human adults, we used intrinsic functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate that the right dorsal and right ventral anterior insula are nodes in separable large-scale functional networks. Furthermore, stronger intrinsic connectivity within the right dorsal anterior insula network was associated with better performance on a task involving attention and processing speed whereas stronger connectivity within the right ventral anterior insula network was associated with more intense affective experience. These results support the hypothesis that the identification and manipulation of salient information is subserved by at least two brain networks anchored in the right anterior insula that exhibit distinct large-scale topography and dissociable behavioral correlates.

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