Connections between the insular cortex and the amygdaloid complex have been demonstrated using various techniques. Although functionally well connected, the precise anatomical substrate through which the amygdaloid complex and the insula are wired remains unknown. In 1960, Klingler briefly described the “fasciculus amygdaloinsularis,” a white matter tract connecting the posterior insula with the amygdala. The existence of such a fasciculus seems likely but has not been firmly established, and the reported literature does not include a thorough description and documentation of its anatomy. In this fiber dissection study the authors sought to elucidate the pathway connecting the insular cortex and the mesial temporal lobe.
Fourteen brain specimens obtained at routine autopsy were dissected according to Klingler’s fiber dissection technique. After fixation and freezing, anatomical dissections were performed in a stepwise progressive fashion.
The insula is connected with the opercula of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes through the extreme capsule, which represents a network of short association fibers. At the limen insulae, white matter fibers from the extreme capsule converge and loop around the uncinate fasciculus toward the temporal pole and the mesial temporal lobe, including the amygdaloid complex.
The insula and the mesial temporal lobe are directly connected through white matter fibers in the extreme capsule, resulting in the appearance of a single amygdaloinsular fasciculus. This apparent fasciculus is part of the broader network of short association fibers of the extreme capsule, which connects the entire insular cortex with the temporal pole and the amygdaloid complex. The authors propose the term “temporoinsular projection system” (TIPS) for this complex.