A convergent functional architecture of the insula emerges across imaging modalities

Neuroimage. 2012 Jul 16;61(4):1129-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.03.021. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Empirical evidence increasingly supports the hypothesis that patterns of intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) are sculpted by a history of evoked coactivation within distinct neuronal networks. This, together with evidence of strong correspondence among the networks defined by iFC and those delineated using a variety of other neuroimaging techniques, suggests a fundamental brain architecture detectable across multiple functional and structural imaging modalities. Here, we leverage this insight to examine the functional organization of the human insula. We parcellated the insula on the basis of three distinct neuroimaging modalities - task-evoked coactivation, intrinsic (i.e., task-independent) functional connectivity, and gray matter structural covariance. Clustering of these three different covariance-based measures revealed a convergent elemental organization of the insula that likely reflects a fundamental brain architecture governing both brain structure and function at multiple spatial scales. While not constrained to be hierarchical, our parcellation revealed a pseudo-hierarchical, multiscale organization that was consistent with previous clustering and meta-analytic studies of the insula. Finally, meta-analytic examination of the cognitive and behavioral domains associated with each of the insular clusters obtained elucidated the broad functional dissociations likely underlying the topography observed. To facilitate future investigations of insula function across healthy and pathological states, the insular parcels have been made freely available for download via http://fcon_1000.projects.nitrc.org, along with the analytic scripts used to perform the parcellations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*