How is internal sensory information organized in insular cortex? How are externally-triggered predictions of internal events organized relative to the actual internal events? How are associations made between predictive cues (the sight and smell of food) and the predicted post-ingestive consequences of consumption (post-ingestive absorprtion of nutrients), when they are separated by long intervals of up to several minutes? What are the unique properties of such a predictive system that acts on slow timescales?
We recently developed a novel microprism-based approach that enables imaging intact insular cortex in awake behaving mice at cellular and subcellular resolution over months. We combine this approach with measurements and manipulations of multiple physiological parameters, especially within the gastointestinal and cardiovascular system. We are using this approach to elucidate how internal sensory information is represented in insular cortex and how these representations are used to guide behavioral choices.