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Active interoceptive inference and the emotional brain

Seth, AK; Friston, KJ; (2016) Active interoceptive inference and the emotional brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 371 (1708) 10.1098/rstb.2016.0007. Green open access

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Abstract

We review a recent shift in conceptions of interoception and its relationship to hierarchical inference in the brain. The notion of interoceptive inference means that bodily states are regulated by autonomic reflexes that are enslaved by descending predictions from deep generative models of our internal and external milieu. This re-conceptualization illuminates several issues in cognitive and clinical neuroscience with implications for experiences of selfhood and emotion. We first contextualize interoception in terms of active (Bayesian) inference in the brain, highlighting its enactivist (embodied) aspects. We then consider the key role of uncertainty or precision and how this might translate into neuromodulation. We next examine the implications for understanding the functional anatomy of the emotional brain, surveying recent observations on agranular cortex. Finally, we turn to theoretical issues, namely, the role of interoception in shaping a sense of embodied self and feelings. We will draw links between physiological homoeostasis and allostasis, early cybernetic ideas of predictive control and hierarchical generative models in predictive processing. The explanatory scope of interoceptive inference ranges from explanations for autism and depression, through to consciousness. We offer a brief survey of these exciting developments. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interoception beyond homeostasis: affect, cognition and mental health’.

Type: Article
Title: Active interoceptive inference and the emotional brain
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0007
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0007
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Biology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics, emotion, self, interoception, predictive coding, neuromodulation, cybernetics, AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER, OLD-WORLD MONKEY, FREE-ENERGY, VISUAL-CORTEX, COMPUTATIONAL PSYCHIATRY, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, ACTION SELECTION, DECISION-MAKING, BODILY SELF, PERCEPTION
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1532767
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