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Structure and Function of the Human Insula

Uddin, Lucina Q.*,†; Nomi, Jason S.*; Hébert-Seropian, Benjamin; Ghaziri, Jimmy§,‖; Boucher, Olivier

Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: July 2017 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 300–306
doi: 10.1097/WNP.0000000000000377
Invited Review

Summary: The insular cortex, or “Island of Reil,” is hidden deep within the lateral sulcus of the brain. Subdivisions within the insula have been identified on the basis of cytoarchitectonics, sulcal landmarks, and connectivity. Depending on the parcellation technique used, the insula can be divided into anywhere between 2 and 13 distinct subdivisions. The insula subserves a wide variety of functions in humans ranging from sensory and affective processing to high-level cognition. Here, we provide a concise summary of known structural and functional features of the human insular cortex with a focus on lesion case studies and recent neuroimaging evidence for considerable functional heterogeneity of this brain region.

*Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.A.;

Neuroscience Program, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.;

Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada;

§Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada; and

Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Lucina Q. Uddin, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Miami, P.O. Box 248185, Coral Gables, FL 33124, U.S.A.; e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supported by R01MH107549 from the National Institute of Mental Health and a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant to LQU.

© 2017 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society