About this Research Topic
This collection will serve to identify and delineate structural and functional boundaries in the insula and claustrum regions across mammalian species, with a particular emphasis on differentiation of these structures as regions of interest for task-negative and task-positive functional imaging studies. Contributions from investigators across disciplines, including structural anatomy, functional imaging, clinical neuroscience/neuropsychology, neurology, and optogenetic and electrophysiological recording will be included, with the intent of addressing two major aims.
The first key objective will be to improve understanding of the function of the claustrum, especially as it relates to task-negative and task-positive functional connectivity across brain areas. Recent work has shown that the connectivity of the claustrum is consistent with a proposed role in salience and/or attention processing, though it may also have other functions. Previous identification of the anterior insula as a salience processing hub in humans may be confounded by the close proximity of the claustrum and insular cortex, and the absence of computational tools for identification and segregation of the claustrum in human imaging studies. We will explore the possibility of claustrum involvement in the salience network, perhaps in conjunction with the anterior insula. Submissions related to the functional organization of the claustrum will address how the respective model systems and/or imaging techniques employed may aid in resolution of activity originating in the claustrum vs. insula.
The second major aim of this collection will be to understand the comparative anatomy, structural connectivity, and function of the insula, especially the anterior insula, in normal and pathological brain function. In particular, submissions will examine the connectomic profile of the insula, as well as task-dependent and resting state changes in functional connectivity of insular areas across species. The putative role of Von Economo neurons, large, spindle-shaped neurons which have been previously proposed as an anatomical marker of the cingulate and insular areas of higher primates, especially great apes and humans, will also be addressed through comparative analysis and review of extant literature. The role of these neurons and their specificity to the primate brain have recently been questioned, and this collection will expand and explain the current status of our understanding of this possible anatomical “specialization.”
The ultimate objective of this collection will be to produce a reference for the comparative structural and functional organization of the insula-claustrum region, and to identify the role of these areas in normal and pathological behavior across species. This reference will be an invaluable and highly cited tool for future investigations.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.