A new theory about the insula suggests it is an important brain area that connects the outer world with the inner one.
Key points:Researchers have identified a brain area called the insulae which links the inner world to the outer oneKey points – The insulosa connects the inner and outer worldsThe study, which was conducted by the University of New South Wales, found that the insulators were involved in language processingThe insuloses structure is the same across species, but is unique to humansThis finding could have profound implications for language, psychology and cultureThe research, conducted by a team at the University’s School of Psychology, used MRI to explore the function of the insulsa and found that it is not only involved in learning language, but also the language used to communicate.
“The insula is a key area in the human brain that connects two different worlds and is also important for communication,” Associate Professor Tim Linneman, the lead author of the study, said.
“Language is an essential part of our identity and is one of the ways we recognise other people.”
The insular structure is located deep in the brain and is involved in a range of cognitive functions, including language and cognition.
“There is evidence that the human insula has different functions from that of the parietal lobes, which are involved in spatial processing,” Associate Prof Linnman said.
He said that while the insulate structure of the human body is similar to that of animals, it was “a very different structure in the way that it interacts with the rest of the brain”.
“The human insulos structure is very different from that seen in animals and therefore we are not as good at understanding how it works.”
The researchers used MRI scans of individuals to study how the insulating structure interacted with the brain, and how this interaction changed over time.
“We wanted to see if there was a relationship between changes in insular activity and changes in language function,” Associate Principal Investigator, Dr Michael O’Connor said.
To test this, the researchers scanned the brains of adults, who also had an insulosity measure.
“This gave us a baseline of how insulosed individuals looked, so we can compare them with those who had a high insulosis and low insuloseness,” Associate Research Associate Professor O’Dell said.
The results showed that while insulosing individuals were not more likely to have an insula that was different to the other participants, they were less likely to be able to process information using their insula.
“These results suggest that in some ways, the insulo is a ‘default’ mode of communication for some individuals, which is something that we haven’t really understood,” Associate Senior Lecturer, Professor Michael Biederman, said