Functions of Interoception: From Energy Regulation to Experience of the Self

Author: Karen S Quigley1, Scott Kanoski2, Warren M Grill3, Lisa Feldman Barrett4, Manos Tsakiris5
1 Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA; Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital, Bedford, MA, USA. Electronic address:
2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA.
4 Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
5 Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK; Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
Conference/Journal: Trends Neurosci
Date published: 2021 Jan 1
Other: Volume ID: 44 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 29-38 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2020.09.008. , Word Count: 139

We review recent work on the functions of interoceptive processing, by which the nervous system anticipates, senses, and integrates signals originating from the body. We focus on several exemplar functions of interoception, including energy regulation (ingestion and excretion), memory, affective and emotional experience, and the psychological sense of self. We emphasize two themes across these functions. First, the anatomy of interoceptive afferents makes it difficult to manipulate or directly measure interoceptive signaling in humans. Second, recent evidence shows that multimodal integration occurs across interoceptive modalities and between interoceptive and exteroceptive modalities. Whereas exteroceptive multimodal integration has been studied relatively extensively, fundamental questions remain regarding multimodal integration that involves interoceptive modalities. Future empirical work is required to better understand how and where multimodal interoceptive integration occurs.

Keywords: allostasis; feeding; memory; psychological sense of self; urinary function.

PMID: 33378654 DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2020.09.008