Altered functional connectivity of the insular cortex across prefrontal networks in cocaine addiction

Psychiatry Res. 2013 Jul 30;213(1):39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2013.02.007. Epub 2013 May 17.


Interoception is theorized to be an important process mediating substance use disorders, and the insular cortex is recognized as a core neural region supporting interoception. The purpose of this study was to compare the integration of the insular cortex into prefrontal-related resting-state networks between individuals with cocaine dependence and healthy controls. Participants comprised 41 patients with cocaine dependence and 19 controls who underwent a resting-state 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Individuals with cocaine dependence demonstrated altered functional connectivity of the insular cortex, predominantly the right insular cortex, with all eight prefrontal-related resting-state networks identified through Independent Component Analysis (ICA). A conjunction analysis demonstrated that the right insular cortex was the neural region with the highest number of common group differences across the networks. There was no evidence that insular cortex connectivity commonly differed between groups for non-prefrontal-related networks. Further, seed-based functional connectivity analyses extended the network analyses and indicated that cocaine dependence was associated with greater connectivity of the right insula with the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These data support the hypothesis that cocaine dependence is related to altered functional interactions of the insular cortex with prefrontal networks. The results suggest possible neural mechanisms by which the insular cortex and interoceptive information influence cognitive control and decision-making processes presumably mediated by prefrontal networks in the cocaine dependence process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*