Insula Interoception, Active Inference and Feeling Representation

23 Dec 2021  ·  Alan S. R. Fermin, Karl Friston, Shigeto Yamawaki ·

The body sends interoceptive visceral information through deep brain structures to the cerebral cortex. The insula cortex, organized in hierarchical modules, is the major cortical region receiving interoceptive afferents and contains visceral topographic maps. Yet, the biological significance of the insula's modular architecture in relation to deep brain regions remains unsolved. In this opinion, we propose the Insula Hierarchical Modular Adaptive Interoception Control (IMAC) model to suggest that insula modules (granular, dysgranular and agranular subregions), forming networks with prefrontal (supplementary motor area, dorsolateral and ventromedial cortices) and striatum (posterior, dorsomedial and ventromedial) subregions, are specialized for higher-order interoceptive representations, recruited in a context-dependent manner to support habitual, model-based and exploratory adaptive behavior. We then discuss how insula interoceptive representations, or metaceptions, could give rise to conscious interoceptive feelings built up from low-order visceral representations and associated basic emotions located in deep interoceptive brain structures.

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