The insular lobe of Reil--its anatamico-functional, behavioural and neuropsychiatric attributes in humans--a review

World J Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Oct;5(4):176-200. doi: 10.1080/15622970410029933.


There is considerable clinical and experimental research to explore the anatamico-functional correlations of the limbic lobe to establish its relevance in modern neuroscience. The insula being a pivotal structure in the concept of the greater limbic lobe, we have attempted to highlight in this review the topographical anatomy and development, the remarkable heterogeneity of the insular cortical architecture, the widespread multifaceted spectrum of functional connectivity patterns and how this is translated to its behavioural specialisation in humans. The insula serves as an intergration cortex for multimodal convergence of distributed neural networks such as the somesthetic-limbic, insulo-limbic, insulo-orbito-temporal and the prefrontal-striato-pallidal-basal forebrain. This provides the conceptual framework to facilitate functional and clinical considerations relevant to the various behavioural and neuropsychiatric disorders outlined in this review. The functional role of the insula in these disorders with particular reference to the current functional neuroimaging data has been also reviewed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Taste / physiology
  • Visceral Afferents / physiopathology