Anteroposterior somatotopy of innocuous cooling activation focus in human dorsal posterior insular cortex
American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Prior data indicate that graded activation by innocuous thermal stimuli occurs in the dorsal posterior insular (dpIns) cortex of humans, rather than the parietal somatosensory regions traditionally thought necessary for discriminative somatic sensations. We hypothesized that if the dpIns subserves the haptic capacity of localization in addition to discrimination, then it should be somatotopically organized. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to detect activation in the dpIns by graded
... ooling stimuli applied to the hand and neck, we found unimodal foci arranged in an anteroposterior somatotopographic pattern, consistent with participation of the dpIns in localization as well as discrimination. This gradient is orthogonal to the mediolateral somatotopy of parietal somatosensory regions, which supports the fundamental conceptual differentiation of the interoceptive somatic representation in the dpIns from the parietal exteroceptive representations. These data also support the suggestion that the poststroke central pain syndrome associated with lesions of the dpIns is a thermoregulatory dysfunction. Finally, another focus of strongly graded activation, which we interpret to represent thermoregulatory behavioral motivation elicited by dynamic cooling, was observed in the dorsal medial cortex.