Brain Region of the Week: Insular Cortex

Brain Region of the Week: Medulla Oblongata

Our Brain Region of the Week is the insular cortex, which is located inside our prefrontal cortex. Just writing about everything it does is exhausting!

The insular cortex is responsible for a lot of our higher brain functions. Without the insular cortex, we couldn’t feel pain or assess the degree to which we feel pain. It’s also responsible for us feeling sensations like heat or coldness, and plays a part in managing our blood pressure when we exercise.

If that weren’t enough, the insular cortex is responsible for our hand-eye coordination and our ability to articulate sentences – AND it helps to regulate our automatic bodily responses. These are things our bodies do without us having to think about it, like the beating of our hearts.

But one of the most important things that the insular cortex is responsible for is emotion. Specifically, this brain region has an important hand in when we feel angry, afraid, disgusted, happy, or sad. And it’s also vital for more complex emotions like empathy, trust, inequity, and uncertainty.

Research has also shown that the insular cortex plays an interesting role when it comes to addiction. When an addict is exposed to certain cues that trigger cravings – for example, if a cigarette smoker sees the pharmacy where he or she usually buys their smokes – the insular cortex is activated. One study found that smokers who suffered damage to this region of the brain were actually able to kick their habit almost immediately after the damage occurred.

It’s hard to imagine how you would be able to function without your insular cortex. A life without emotion would be bleak indeed. So let’s raise a glass to our hardworking Brain Region of the Week, the insular cortex!

Enjoyed this? Brush up on last week’s region, the pituitary gland!

 Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via Compfight cc

Our Brain Region of the Week is the insular cortex, which is located inside our prefrontal cortex. Just writing about everything it does is exhausting!

The insular cortex is responsible for a lot of our higher brain functions. Without the insular cortex, we couldn’t feel pain or assess the degree to which we feel pain. It’s also responsible for us feeling sensations like heat or coldness, and plays a part in managing our blood pressure when we exercise.

If that weren’t enough, the insular cortex is responsible for our hand-eye coordination and our ability to articulate sentences – AND it helps to regulate our automatic bodily responses. These are things our bodies do without us having to think about it, like the beating of our hearts.

But one of the most important things that the insular cortex is responsible for is emotion. Specifically, this brain region has an important hand in when we feel angry, afraid, disgusted, happy, or sad. And it’s also vital for more complex emotions like empathy, trust, inequity, and uncertainty.

Research has also shown that the insular cortex plays an interesting role when it comes to addiction. When an addict is exposed to certain cues that trigger cravings – for example, if a cigarette smoker sees the pharmacy where he or she usually buys their smokes – the insular cortex is activated. One study found that smokers who suffered damage to this region of the brain were actually able to kick their habit almost immediately after the damage occurred.

It’s hard to imagine how you would be able to function without your insular cortex. A life without emotion would be bleak indeed. So let’s raise a glass to our hardworking Brain Region of the Week, the insular cortex!

Enjoyed this? Brush up on last week’s region, the pituitary gland!

 Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via Compfight cc

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