Event Abstract

Body-Mind Interface in the Primate Insular Cortex

  • 1 Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Germany
  • 2 Werner Reichardt Centrum für Integrative Neurowissenschaften (CIN), Universität Tübingen, Germany

Long perceived as a primitive and poorly differentiated cortical lobe, the primate insula is in fact a highly evolved, organized and richly connected cortical hub interfacing interoception (bodily states) with sensorimotor, environmental, and limbic activities. This interface likely engenders emotional embodiment and underlies the interoceptive shaping of cognitive processes, including perceptual awareness. Our lab combines several distinct experimental approaches in non-human primates (architectonics, tracing, NET-, DES- and opto-fMRI) to examine the anatomical and functional organization of the insula. Here, we present a novel working model of the insula, based on an accumulation of neuroanatomical and functional evidence obtained in our and other labs. This model proposes that interoceptive afferents that represent the ongoing bodily states are first being received in the granular dorsal fundus of the insula or “primary interoceptive cortex,” then processed serially through dysgranular poly-modal “insular stripes,” and finally integrated in anterior agranular areas that act as an output stage for efferent autonomic regulation. One of the agranular areas hosts the specialized von Economo and Fork neurons, which could provide a pivotal evolutionary advantage for the autonomic and emotional binding inherent to subjective awareness.


This work was supported by the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen [CIN is an Excellence Cluster funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the framework of the Excellence Initiative EXC 307] and by the Max Planck Society.


Evrard HC (2019) The Organization of the Primate Insular Cortex. Front. Neuroanat. 13:43. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2019.00043

Keywords: insular cortex, interoception, emotion, Cognition, Autonomic Nervous System, Awareness

Conference: 13th National Congress of the Belgian Society for Neuroscience , Brussels, Belgium, 24 May - 24 May, 2019.

Presentation Type: Poster presentation

Topic: Behavioral/Systems Neuroscience

Citation: Byrne M, Hartig R, Holmes J, Horn FM, Provenzano M, Saleh TO, Smuda J, Steiner S and Evrard HC (2019). Body-Mind Interface in the Primate Insular Cortex. Front. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: 13th National Congress of the Belgian Society for Neuroscience . doi: 10.3389/conf.fnins.2019.96.00005

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Received: 02 May 2019; Published Online: 27 Sep 2019.

* Correspondence: Dr. Henry C Evrard, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, 72076, Germany, henry.evrard@tuebingen.mpg.de