The role of interoceptive inference in theory of mind

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Inferring the intentions and beliefs of another is an ability that is fundamental for social and affiliative interactions. A substantial amount of empirical evidence suggests that making sense of another’s intentional and belief states (i.e. theory of mind) relies on exteroceptive (e.g. visual and auditory) and proprioceptive (i.e. motor) signals. Yet, despite its pivotal role in the guidance of behaviour, the role of the observer’s interoceptive (visceral) processing in understanding another’s internal states remains unexplored. Predicting and keeping track of interoceptive bodily states – which inform intentions and beliefs that guide behaviour – is one of the fundamental purposes of the human brain. In this paper, we will focus on the role of interoceptive predictions, prescribed by the free energy principle, in making sense of internal states that cause another’s behaviour. We will discuss how multimodal expectations induced at deep (high) hierarchical levels – that necessarily entail interoceptive predictions – contribute to inference about others that is at the heart of theory of mind.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles