The role of interoception and its neural basis with relevance to drug addiction is reviewed. Interoception consists of the receiving, processing, and integrating body-relevant signals with external stimuli to affect ongoing motivated behavior. The insular cortex is the central nervous system hub to process and integrate these signals. Interoception is an important component of several addiction relevant constructs including arousal, attention, stress, reward, and conditioning. Imaging studies with drug-addicted individuals show that the insular cortex is hypo-active during cognitive control processes but hyperactive during cue reactivity and drug-specific, reward-related processes. It is proposed that interoception contributes to drug addiction by incorporating an "embodied" experience of drug uses together with the individual's predicted versus actual internal state to modulate approach or avoidance behavior, i.e. whether to take or not to take drugs. This opens the possibility of two types of interventions. First, one may be able to modulate the embodied experience by enhancing insula reactivity where necessary, e.g. when engaging in drug seeking behavior, or attenuating insula when exposed to drug-relevant cues. Second, one may be able to reduce the urge to act by increasing the frontal control network, i.e. inhibiting the urge to use by employing cognitive training. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'NIDA 40th Anniversary Issue'.
Keywords: Cue reactivity; Embodiment; Insula; Interoception; Relapse.
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