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Is the cardiac monitoring function related to the self in both the default network and right anterior insula?

Babo-Rebelo, M; Wolpert, N; Adam, C; Hasboun, D; Tallon-Baudry, C; (2016) Is the cardiac monitoring function related to the self in both the default network and right anterior insula? Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences , 371 (1708) , Article 20160004. 10.1098/rstb.2016.0004. Green open access

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Abstract

The self has been proposed to be rooted in the neural monitoring of internal bodily signals and might thus involve interoceptive areas, notably the right anterior insula (rAI). However, studies on the self consistently showed the involvement of midline default network (DN) nodes, without referring to visceral monitoring. Here, we investigate this apparent discrepancy. We previously showed that neural responses to heartbeats in the DN encode two different self-dimensions, the agentive ‘I’ and the introspective ‘Me’, in a whole-brain analysis of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data. Here, we confirm and anatomically refine this result with intracranial recordings (intracranial electroencephalography, iEEG). In two patients, we show a parametric modulation of neural responses to heartbeats by the self-relatedness of thoughts, at the single trial level. A region-of-interest analysis of the insula reveals that MEG responses to heartbeats in the rAI encode the ‘I’ self-dimension. The effect in rAI was weaker than in the DN and was replicated in iEEG data in one patient out of two. We propose that a common mechanism, the neural monitoring of cardiac signals, underlies the self in both the DN and rAI. This might reconcile studies on the self highlighting the DN, with studies on interoception focusing on the insula.

Type: Article
Title: Is the cardiac monitoring function related to the self in both the default network and right anterior insula?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0004
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0004
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: spontaneous cognition, intracranial electroencephalography, interoception, heartbeat-evoked responses, neural responses to heartbeats, magnetoencephalography
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082543
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