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Influential theories of brain-viscera interactions propose a central role for interoception in basic motivational and affective feeling states. Recent neuroimaging studies have underlined the insula, anterior cingulate, and ventral prefrontal cortices as the neural correlates of interoception. However, the relationships between these distributed brain regions remain unclear. In this study, we used spatial independent component analysis (ICA) and functional network connectivity (FNC) approaches to investigate time course correlations across the brain regions during visceral interoception. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed in thirteen healthy females who underwent viscerosensory stimulation of bladder as a representative internal organ at different prefill levels, i.e., no prefill, low prefill (100 ml saline), and high prefill (individually adapted to the sensations of persistent strong desire to void), and with different infusion temperatures, i.e., body warm (∼37°C) or ice cold (4-8°C) saline solution. During Increased distention pressure on the viscera, the insula, striatum, anterior cingulate, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdalo-hippocampus, thalamus, brainstem, and cerebellar components showed increased activation. A second group of components encompassing the insula and anterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices and temporal-parietal junction showed increased activity with innocuous temperature stimulation of bladder mucosa. Significant differences in the FNC were found between the insula and amygdalo-hippocampus, the insula and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and temporal-parietal junction as the distention pressure on the viscera increased. These results provide new insight into the supraspinal processing of visceral interoception originating from an internal organ.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Brain Mapp

Publication Date





4438 - 4468


alliesthesia, bladder, fMRI, homeostasis, insula, limbic, prefrontal, salience, self-referential, visceral sensation, Adult, Brain, Connectome, Female, Humans, Interoception, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Middle Aged, Nerve Net, Urinary Bladder, Young Adult