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Quantitative modeling links in vivo microstructural and macrofunctional organization of human and macaque insular cortex, and predicts cognitive control abilities
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Computational Science and Technology (CST).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3213-0040
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Abstract [en]

The human insular cortex is a heterogenous brain structure which plays an integrative role in guiding behavior. The cytoarchitectonic organization of the human insula has been investigated over the last century using postmortem brains but there has been little progress in noninvasive in vivo mapping of its microstructure and large-scale functional circuitry. Quantitative modeling of multi-shell diffusion MRI (dMRI) data from 440 HCP participants revealed that human insula microstructure differs significantly across its functionally defined dorsal anterior, ventral anterior, and posterior insula subdivisions that serve distinct cognitive and affective functions. The microstructural organization of the insula was mirrored in its functionally interconnected circuits with the anterior cingulate cortex that anchor the salience network, a system important for adaptive switching of cognitive control systems. Novel validation of the human insula findings came from quantitative dMRI modeling in macaques which revealed microstructural features consistent with known primate insula cytoarchitecture. Theoretical analysis and computer simulations, using realistic 3-dimensional models of neuronal morphology from postmortem tissue, demonstrated that dMRI signals reflect the cellular organization of cortical gray matter, and that these signals are sensitive to cell size and the presence of large neurons such as the von Economo neurons. Crucially, insular microstructural features were linked to behavior and predicted individual differences in cognitive control ability. Our findings open new possibilities for probing psychiatric and neurological disorders impacted by insular cortex dysfunction, including autism, schizophrenia, and fronto-temporal dementia.

Statement of Significance The human insular cortex is a heterogenous brain structure which plays an integrative role in identifying salient sensory, affective, and cognitive cues for guiding attention and behavior. It is also is one of the most widely activated brain regions in all of human neuroimaging research. Here we use novel quantitative tools with in vivodiffusion MRI in large group (N=440) of individuals to uncover several unique microstructural features of the human insula and its macrofunctional circuits. Crucially, microstructural properties of the insular cortex predicted human cognitive control abilities, in agreement with its crucial role in adaptive human behaviors. Our findings open new possibilities for probing psychiatric and neurological disorders impacted by insular dysfunction, including autism, schizophrenia, and fronto-temporal dementia.

National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biological Physics; Applied and Computational Mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-253824DOI: 10.1101/662601OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-253824DiVA, id: diva2:1326790
Note

QC 20190624

Available from: 2019-06-18 Created: 2019-06-18 Last updated: 2019-06-24Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/662601v1.abstract

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Nguyen, Van Dang

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