Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self

Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Nov;17(11):565-73. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Oct 12.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Brain
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Perception / physiology*