Junior Research Group
Developmental and traumatic impairment of self-conscious feelings is central to numerous mental disorders (autism, schizophrenia, dementia, suicidal psychosis, chronic depression, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, substance addiction). Partly due to a lack of knowledge of the brain regions involved, many of these disorders cannot be prevented, reduced or treated, which relegates untreatable mental disorder patients to lifelong emotional and perceptional suffering and disability, as well as to a higher risk of suicide attempt and completion. Structural and neurochemical alterations of the insular cortex have a crucial role in disrupting the sensory and limbic integrations that engender healthy subjective feelings in humans. Unlike motor, auditory and visual brain regions for which decades of research enabled prescribing drug treatment, deep brain stimulation and prosthetic implants, the insular cortex’s anatomofunctional and neurochemical organization are barely known and understood, limiting our possibilities to develop new therapeutics and knowledgeable support for self-referenced mental disorders. Using various models, our lab attempts to understand in detail the organization of the structure and functional relationships that underlie interoceptive and emotional integration within the insular cortex.