This chapter describes the organization, properties and modality specificity of the visual insular cortex of the cat. Insular cortex of the cat is the new member of a growing family of extrageniculo-striate visual areas. Long considered by anatomists and physiologists to be the archetypic association cortex in monkey and man the insula now appears to possess a subregion which is unimodally-responsive for vision, having a specific thalamic input, and therefore that no longer fits the general rubric of “association” cortex. Several findings support the view that the insula of the cat is an independent cortical region which contains unimodal, visually responsive cells. This area may play a functional role in goal-directed visual orienting behaviors or in visuo-affective integration. The area is in close functional and anatomical association with the AEV and has strong connectional inter-relationships with other members of the extrageniculostriate cortex and limbic structures. These observations and conclusions underscore the need to consider, very carefully, redefining not only this area, but also other functionally similar regions of “non-primary” sensory cortex, in terms other than merely associational.
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