On the Origin of Interoception

Front Psychol. 2016 May 23:7:743. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00743. eCollection 2016.


Over the course of a century, the meaning of interoception has changed from the restrictive to the inclusive. In its inclusive sense, it bears relevance to every individual via its link to emotion, decision making, time-perception, health, pain, and various other areas of life. While the label for the perception of the body state changes over time, the need for an overarching concept remains. Many aspects can make any particular interoceptive sensation unique and distinct from any other interoceptive sensation. This can range from the sense of agency, to the physical cause of a sensation, the ontogenetic origin, the efferent innervation, and afferent pathways of the tissue involved amongst others. In its overarching meaning, interoception primarily is a product of the central nervous system, a construct based on an integration of various sources, not per se including afferent information. This paper proposes a definition of interoception as based on subjective experience, and pleas for the use of specific vocabulary in addressing the many aspects that contribute to it.

Keywords: body state perception; cross-modal integration; interoception conceptualization; phenomenological experience; subjective experience.

Publication types

  • Review