I’m sure you remember all the articles last week telling us how people with strokes causing damage to the insula have reported that they no longer feel the urge to smoke. In this weeks New York Times health section Sandra Blakeslee explores the insula in depth, examining both the possible treatment options as well as the many other functions it serves.
Here’s a good snipit from the article:
If it does everything, what exactly is it that it does?
For example, the insula “lights up” in brain scans when people crave drugs, feel pain, anticipate pain, empathize with others, listen to jokes, see disgust on someone’s face, are shunned in a social settings, listen to music, decide not to buy an item, see someone cheat and decide to punish them, and determine degrees of preference while eating chocolate.
Damage to the insula can lead to apathy, loss of libido and an inability to tell fresh food from rotten.