Anterior insular cortex plays a critical role in interoceptive attention

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Xingchao WangJin Fan

Abstract

Although accumulating evidence indicates that the anterior insular cortex (AIC) mediates interoceptive attention, which refers the attention towards physiological signals arising from the body, the necessity of the AIC in this process has not been demonstrated. Using a novel task that directs attention toward breathing rhythm, we assessed the involvement of the AIC in interoceptive attention in healthy participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging and examined the necessity of the AIC in interoceptive attention in patients with AIC lesions. We found that interoceptive attention was associated with greater AIC activation, as well as enhanced coupling between the AIC and somatosensory area along with reduced coupling between AIC and visual sensory areas. AIC activation and connectivity were predictive of individual differences in interoceptive accuracy. Importantly, AIC lesion patients showed disrupted interoceptive discrimination accuracy and sensitivity. Together, these results provide compelling evidence that AIC plays a critical role in interoceptive attention.

Related Concepts

Attention
Insula of Reil
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Participant
Somatosensory Disorders
Rhythmic Process (Biological)

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