Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 2

Insular Cortex Schematic

The Insular Cortex is part of the brain that is involved in integrating sensory information as well as appearing to play a significant role in emotions. The Insular Cortex was initially referred to as the Island of Reil after Johann Reil, the father of Psychiatry who first identified this part of the brain. I wrote this piece in 2008 when initially developing a model of the Insular Cortex. The model was based on the findings from a few research studies. These were simple beginnings. Since then I reviewed some of the work of A (Bud) Craig who has written some comprehensive pieces on the Insular Cortex in Journals including Nature Reviews Neuroscience (see here, here and here). Craig’s model of the Insular Cortex is fairly sophisticated and I thought it would provide a useful starting point for revisiting a model of the Insular Cortex.

In the 2009 paper ‘How Do You Feel Now? The Anterior Insula and Human Awareness‘, Craig outlines his model of the Insular Cortex based on his research work in the field of neurophysiology and his integration of various lines of scientific inquiry. He focuses on a role for the Anterior Insular Cortex in awareness and references both the James-Lange theory and the ‘Somatic Marker‘ hypothesis of Damasio. In this paper, Craig looks at the Von Economo Neurons which he proposes as a substrate for consciousness. Whether this is the case or not, Craig’s analysis here is multilayered with the most basic layers in his model being based on physiological studies. At higher levels in the model just as with the human nervous system increasing degrees of complexity mean that the analysis is correspondingly complex.

(To be continued)

Insular Cortex Resources on this Site

What does the Insular Cortex Do Again?

Insular Cortex Infarction in Acute Middle Cerebral Artery Territory Stroke

The Insular Cortex and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Developing a Model of the Insular Cortex and Emotional Regulation Part 1 Developing a Model of the Insular Cortex: A Recap

The Relationship of Blood Pressure to Subcortical Lesions

Pathobiology of Visceral Pain

Interoception and the Insular Cortex

A Case of Neurogenic T-Wave Inversion

Video Presentations on a Model of the Insular Cortex

MR Visualisations of the Insula

The Subjective Experience of Pain*

How Do You Feel? Interoception: The Sense of the Physiological Condition of the Body

How Do You Feel – Now? The Anterior Insula and Human Awareness

Role of the Insular Cortex in the Modulation of Pain

The Insular Cortex and Frontotemporal Dementia

A Case of Infarct Connecting the Insular Cortex and the Heart

The Insular Cortex: Part of the Brain that Connects Smell and Taste?

Stuttered Swallowing and the Insular Cortex

YouTubing the Insular Cortex (Brodmann Areas 13, 14 and 52)

New Version of Video on Insular Cortex Uploaded

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


  1. I’ve seen studies that suggest that elevated levels of dopamine in the insula are anti-correlated with motivation, unlike other areas of the brain (e.g., the nucleus accumbens or the prefrontal cortex). Do you have a sense of why that might be the case?


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