Interoception: The Sense Behind Wellbeing (HackerNoon)

Roxana Murariu, ‘Interoception: The Sense Behind Wellbeing’,, HackerNoon (November 7th 2022)

Brains didn’t evolve for rationality. They did not evolve for you to think or to perceive the world accurately. They didn’t even really evolve for you to see or hear or feel. Brains evolved to regulate a body so that it could move around the world efficiently. (…) The core task of a brain working in service to the body is allostasis: regulating the body’s internal systems by anticipating needs and preparing to satisfy them before they arise. Interoception — your brain’s representation of sensations from your own body — is the sensory consequence of this activity […], and is central to everything from thought, to emotion, to decision making, and our sense of self. (…) Your body is part of your mind, not in some gauzy mystical way, but in a very real biological way. (…) Interoception is part of embodied cognition, a research field that states that the organism’s body shapes many cognitive features. This cognitive science field draws research from “psychology, neuroscience, ethology, philosophy, linguistics, robotics, and artificial intelligence”. It is in stark contrast to the Cartesian mind-body dualism, where the body is at the mercy of our emotions and is an insignificant carcass for “the seat of cognition”, the all-mighty brain. For the embodied cognition theoreticians, we are not brains that have an attached body. We are bodies. (…) If a person’s interoception is not fully developed, they may find it difficult to manage their emotions and social interactions. If someone does not recognise the signals for an emotion, they are not able to respond to it. This can result in anger becoming rage, sadness becoming distress and so on. Other people can perceive this as dysregulation.