Neural Circuits of Interoception

Trends Neurosci. 2021 Jan;44(1):17-28. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2020.09.011.


The present paper considers recent progress in our understanding of the afferent/ascending neural pathways and neural circuits of interoception. Of particular note is the extensive role of rostral neural systems, including cortical systems, in the recognition of internal body states, and the reciprocal role of efferent/descending systems in the regulation of those states. Together these reciprocal interacting networks entail interoceptive circuits that play an important role in a broad range of functions beyond the homeostatic maintenance of physiological steady-states. These include the regulation of behavioral, cognitive, and affective processes across conscious and nonconscious levels of processing. We highlight recent advances and knowledge gaps that are important for accelerating progress in the study of interoception.

Keywords: autonomic; efferent; homeostasis; interoceptive awareness; visceral afferent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Interoception*
  • Neural Pathways