Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 214, Issue 5–6, pp 645–653 | Cite as

Risk and risk prediction error signals in anterior insula



Most accounts of the function of anterior insula in the human brain refer to concepts that are difficult to formalize, such as feelings and awareness. The discovery of signals that reflect risk assessment and risk learning, however, opens the door to formal analysis. Hitherto, activations have been correlated with objective versions of risk and risk prediction error, but subjective versions (influenced by pessimism/optimism or risk aversion/tolerance) exist. Activation in closely related cortical structures has been found to be both objective (anterior cingulate cortex) and subjective (inferior frontal gyrus). For this quantitative analysis of uncertainty-induced neuronal activation to further understanding of insula’s role in feelings and awareness, however, formalization and documentation of the relation between uncertainty and feelings/awareness will be needed. One obvious starting point is the link with failure anxiety and error awareness.


Anterior insula Risk Risk prediction error Ambiguity Uncertainty 



Supported by Grants from the US National Science Foundation (SES-0527491) and the Swiss Finance Institute. The manuscript benefited from discussions with Kerstin Preuschoff and Tania Singer, and comments from two referees and the editor, although the usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computational and Neural Systems, California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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