State and trait characteristics of anterior insula time-varying functional connectivity

Neuroimage. 2020 Mar;208:116425. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116425. Epub 2019 Dec 2.


The human anterior insula (aINS) is a topographically organized brain region, in which ventral portions contribute to socio-emotional function through limbic and autonomic connections, whereas the dorsal aINS contributes to cognitive processes through frontal and parietal connections. Open questions remain, however, regarding how aINS connectivity varies over time. We implemented a novel approach combining seed-to-whole-brain sliding-window functional connectivity MRI and k-means clustering to assess time-varying functional connectivity of aINS subregions. We studied three independent large samples of healthy participants and longitudinal datasets to assess inter- and intra-subject stability, and related aINS time-varying functional connectivity profiles to dispositional empathy. We identified four robust aINS time-varying functional connectivity modes that displayed both "state" and "trait" characteristics: while modes featuring connectivity to sensory regions were modulated by eye closure, modes featuring connectivity to higher cognitive and emotional processing regions were stable over time and related to empathy measures.

Keywords: Anterior insula; Socio-emotional functioning; State; Time-varying functional connectivity; Trait.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Empathy / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychosocial Functioning*
  • Young Adult