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How do you feel--now? The anterior insula and human awareness.

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Nature reviews. Neuroscience

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      Abstract

      The anterior insular cortex (AIC) is implicated in a wide range of conditions and behaviours, from bowel distension and orgasm, to cigarette craving and maternal love, to decision making and sudden insight. Its function in the re-representation of interoception offers one possible basis for its involvement in all subjective feelings. New findings suggest a fundamental role for the AIC (and the von Economo neurons it contains) in awareness, and thus it needs to be considered as a potential neural correlate of consciousness.

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      Most cited references 116

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      Dissociable intrinsic connectivity networks for salience processing and executive control.

      Variations in neural circuitry, inherited or acquired, may underlie important individual differences in thought, feeling, and action patterns. Here, we used task-free connectivity analyses to isolate and characterize two distinct networks typically coactivated during functional MRI tasks. We identified a "salience network," anchored by dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and orbital frontoinsular cortices with robust connectivity to subcortical and limbic structures, and an "executive-control network" that links dorsolateral frontal and parietal neocortices. These intrinsic connectivity networks showed dissociable correlations with functions measured outside the scanner. Prescan anxiety ratings correlated with intrinsic functional connectivity of the dACC node of the salience network, but with no region in the executive-control network, whereas executive task performance correlated with lateral parietal nodes of the executive-control network, but with no region in the salience network. Our findings suggest that task-free analysis of intrinsic connectivity networks may help elucidate the neural architectures that support fundamental aspects of human behavior.
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        How do you feel? Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body.

        As humans, we perceive feelings from our bodies that relate our state of well-being, our energy and stress levels, our mood and disposition. How do we have these feelings? What neural processes do they represent? Recent functional anatomical work has detailed an afferent neural system in primates and in humans that represents all aspects of the physiological condition of the physical body. This system constitutes a representation of 'the material me', and might provide a foundation for subjective feelings, emotion and self-awareness.
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          Meeting of minds: the medial frontal cortex and social cognition.

          Social interaction is a cornerstone of human life, yet the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition are poorly understood. Recently, research that integrates approaches from neuroscience and social psychology has begun to shed light on these processes, and converging evidence from neuroimaging studies suggests a unique role for the medial frontal cortex. We review the emerging literature that relates social cognition to the medial frontal cortex and, on the basis of anatomical and functional characteristics of this brain region, propose a theoretical model of medial frontal cortical function relevant to different aspects of social cognitive processing.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, USA. bcraig@chw.edu
            Journal
            Nat. Rev. Neurosci.
            Nature reviews. Neuroscience
            1471-0048
            1471-003X
            Jan 2009
            : 10
            : 1
            nrn2555 10.1038/nrn2555 19096369

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