Neuroimaging of genesis and satiation of thirst and an interoceptor-driven theory of origins of primary consciousness

Derek Denton, Robert Shade, Frank Zamarippa, Gary Egan, John Blair-West, Michael Mckinley, Jack Lancaster, Peter Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations

Abstract

There are defined hypothalamic functions in the genesis of thirst, but little is known of the cortical processes subserving consciousness of thirst notwithstanding the medical disorders that occur in psychiatric illness, addiction, and the attested decline of thirst with aging. In 10 adult males, positron emission tomography scans were made (i) during genesis of moderate thirst by infusion of i.v. hypertonic saline 0.51 M, (ii) after irrigation of the mouth with water to remove the sensation of dryness, and (iii) 3, 14, 45, and 60 minutes after drinking water to fully satiate thirst. The correlation of regional cerebral blood flow with thirst score showed the major activation to be in the posterior cingulate. Maximum thirst sensation evoked 13 highly significant activations and 9 deactivations in cingulate and parahippocampal gyri, insula, thalamus, amygdala, and mesencephalon. It is possible that cingulate sites (Brodmann's areas 32, 24, and 31) that persisted with wet mouth but disappeared immediately after drinking to satiation may have an important role in the consciousness of thirst. Consciousness of thirst, a primal vegetative emotion, and satiation of thirst appear to be subserved by phylogenetically ancient brain regions. This is salient to current discussion on evolutionary emergence of primary consciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5304-5309
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume96
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 27 1999

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