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Conscious perception of errors and its relation to the anterior insula

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      Abstract

      To detect erroneous action outcomes is necessary for flexible adjustments and therefore a prerequisite of adaptive, goal-directed behavior. While performance monitoring has been studied intensively over two decades and a vast amount of knowledge on its functional neuroanatomy has been gathered, much less is known about conscious error perception, often referred to as error awareness. Here, we review and discuss the conditions under which error awareness occurs, its neural correlates and underlying functional neuroanatomy. We focus specifically on the anterior insula, which has been shown to be (a) reliably activated during performance monitoring and (b) modulated by error awareness. Anterior insular activity appears to be closely related to autonomic responses associated with consciously perceived errors, although the causality and directions of these relationships still needs to be unraveled. We discuss the role of the anterior insula in generating versus perceiving autonomic responses and as a key player in balancing effortful task-related and resting-state activity. We suggest that errors elicit reactions highly reminiscent of an orienting response and may thus induce the autonomic arousal needed to recruit the required mental and physical resources. We discuss the role of norepinephrine activity in eliciting sufficiently strong central and autonomic nervous responses enabling the necessary adaptation as well as conscious error perception.

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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--now? The anterior insula and human awareness.

        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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          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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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Gleueler Str. 50, 50931 Cologne, Germany
            [2 ]Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, 6525 HR Nijmegen, The Netherlands
            [3 ]Department of Psychology, Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
            Contributors
            +31-24-3612545 , +31-24-3616066 , m.ullsperger@donders.ru.nl
            Journal
            Brain Struct Funct
            Brain Structure & Function
            Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
            1863-2653
            1863-2661
            29 May 2010
            29 May 2010
            June 2010
            : 214
            : 5-6
            : 629-643
            2886909
            20512371
            261
            10.1007/s00429-010-0261-1
            © The Author(s) 2010
            Categories
            Review
            Custom metadata
            © Springer-Verlag 2010

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