The insula of Reil represents a large cortical territory buried in the depth of the lateral sulcus and subdivided into 3 major cytoarchitectonic domains: agranular, dysgranular, and granular. The present study aimed at reinvestigating the architectonic organization of the monkey's insula using multiple immunohistochemical stainings (parvalbumin, PV; nonphosphorylated neurofilament protein, with SMI-32; acetylcholinesterase, AChE) in addition to Nissl and myelin. According to changes in density and laminar distributions of the neurochemical markers, several zones were defined and related to 8 cytoarchitectonic subdivisions (Ia1–Ia2/Id1–Id3/Ig1–Ig2/G). Comparison of the different patterns of staining on unfolded maps of the insula revealed: 1) parallel ventral to dorsal gradients of increasing myelin, PV- and AChE-containing fibers in middle layers, and of SMI-32 pyramidal neurons in supragranular layers, with merging of dorsal and ventral high-density bands in posterior insula, 2) definition of an insula “proper” restricted to two-thirds of the “morphological” insula (as bounded by the limiting sulcus) and characterized most notably by lower PV, and 3) the insula proper is bordered along its dorsal, posterodorsal, and posteroventral margin by a strip of cortex extending beyond the limits of the morphological insula and continuous architectonically with frontoparietal and temporal opercular areas related to gustatory, somatosensory, and auditory modalities.

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