Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self

Author: Anil K Seth1
1 Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science and School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9QJ, UK. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Trends Cogn Sci
Date published: 2013 Nov 1
Other: Volume ID: 17 , Issue ID: 11 , Pages: 565-73 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.09.007. , Word Count: 133

The concept of the brain as a prediction machine has enjoyed a resurgence in the context of the Bayesian brain and predictive coding approaches within cognitive science. To date, this perspective has been applied primarily to exteroceptive perception (e.g., vision, audition), and action. Here, I describe a predictive, inferential perspective on interoception: 'interoceptive inference' conceives of subjective feeling states (emotions) as arising from actively-inferred generative (predictive) models of the causes of interoceptive afferents. The model generalizes 'appraisal' theories that view emotions as emerging from cognitive evaluations of physiological changes, and it sheds new light on the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the experience of body ownership and conscious selfhood in health and in neuropsychiatric illness.

Keywords: active inference; emotion; experience of body ownership; interoception; predictive coding; rubber hand illusion.

PMID: 24126130 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.09.007