Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Following up the recent articles about its role in smoking, the insula is making news again, this time with some interesting commentary.

All mammals have insulas that read their body condition, Dr. Craig said. Information about the status of the body’s tissues and organs is carried from the receptors along distinct spinal pathways, into the brain stem and up to the posterior insula in the higher brain or cortex.

As such, all mammals have emotions, defined as sensations that provoke motivations. If an animal is hot, it seeks shade. If hungry, it looks for food. If hurt, it licks the wound.

Certainly my dogs show a wide variety of emotions, but there's clear limits to more complex emotion behaviors like empathy, revenge or sacrifice. Sounds like there's a wealth of research around that little fatty dingle of brainmeat.

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