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Episode 204: An Introduction to Interoception

Video Highlights

- What is interoception?
- Where does interoception live?
- How does interoception affect us?

There is a map, a distinctly different map than exteroception, that is making you aware the the state, and health, and status of all of your internal tissues, all of the time.

Dr. Cobb:  And now we are at interoception.

So you guys are at page five, we’ll go ahead and jump into this. This is going to be one of those rare times, like I said, where I’m going to actually read the quote out loud. This is from Bud Craig. Dr. Craig was actually really one of the first people, 2003, to publish on interoception in a very practical way. I actually want to read this because I think it’s such a powerful quote. A little wordy but hang in there.

Converging evidence indicates that primates have a distinct cortical image of homeostatic afferent activity that reflects all aspects of the physiological condition of all tissues of the body. Stop there for a second. Think about that. Afferent, what does that mean?

Dr. Cobb:  It’s going where? It’s going into the nervous system into the brain. He’s basically saying we have this system, a distinct cortical image of homeostatic afferent activity that reflects what aspects?

Class:  All-

Dr. Cobb: All aspects of physiological condition of all tissues. This interoceptive system associated with autonomic motor control is distinct from the exteroceptive system, which is the stuff that we’ve been talking about, that guides somatic motor activity. The primary interoceptive representation in the dorsal posterior insula engenders highly resolved feelings from the body that include pain, temperature, itch, central touch, muscular visceral sensations, vasomotor activity, hunger, thirst, and air hunger.

A graphic of Neurology and many other related words overlayed on a hand writing on a glass board.

In humans, a meta-representation of the primary interoceptive activity is engendered in the right anterior insula which seems to provide the basis for the subjective image of the material self as a feeling sentient entity that is emotional awareness. He wrote a book on this if you ever want to put yourself to sleep. Just pick that sucker up and use it before bed. It’s really cool, but only if you get excited about this kind of information. There’s a huge amount of info in this so he’s talking about different anatomical substrates, the posterior and anterior insula which we’re going to get into. He’s saying, look, it appears as if there is a cortical representation, aka a what?

Class:  Map-

Dr. Cobb: Map. There is a map, a distinctly different map than exteroception that is making you aware of the state and health and status of all of your internal tissues all the time. That’s what they call the interoceptive map. Now, on top of that at the bottom, this last little sentence is to me very fascinating that this interoceptive activity provides the foundation for what?

Class: Emotional-

Dr. Cobb:  Emotional awareness, sense of self. This is going to be kind of a big deal going forward. The reason that this is so important to me is, again, interoception is extremely linked not only to physiological behavior but emotional or psychological behavior. That’s why I think this is such an important area to explore. When we look at this in the grand scheme of our life, the people that are coming to us. The people that are coming to us, most of them are coming because they lack the ability to do what you do on their own. I always tell people or you’ve heard me say this in early classes, your clients are renting your motivation. They’re renting your energy. They’re renting your motivation. How many of you feel like your motivation’s drained by the end of the day?

That’s because you’re renting it out. It’s like I got to go home and clean the house. It happens. It’s kind of the nature of the beast of working with other human beings, especially the ones that struggle with these kind of issues. One of the reasons, again, I think this information is so important in this class is wouldn’t it be awesome if a large part of what you did for people was re-instill the health required for them to recover their own motivation.

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