Homeostatic emotion

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A homeostatic emotion (or primordial emotion, or primordial feeling) is an attention-demanding feeling (e.g., thirst, pain, fatigue) evoked by an internal body state that drives behavior (drinking, withdrawing and resting in these examples) aimed at restoring the body to its ideal state.[1][2][3]

Derek Denton defines "primordial emotion" as "the subjective element of the instincts, which are the genetically programmed behaviour patterns which contrive homeostasis. They include thirst, hunger for air, hunger for food, pain, hunger for specific minerals etc. There are two constituents of a primordial emotion--the specific sensation which when severe may be imperious, and the compelling intention for gratification by a consummatory act."[4]

Bud Craig argues that humans and anthropoid primates form an image of all of the body's unique homeostatic sensations in the brain's primary interoceptive cortex (located in the dorsal posterior insula). This image is mirrored ("re-represented") in the mid- and anterior insula, and the anterior insula's image (modulated by input from cognitive, affective and reward-related circuits) embodies conscious awareness of the whole body's homeostatic state. A sensation re-represented in the anterior insula and that sensation's related motivation hosted in the anterior cingulate cortex form a homeostatic emotion.[5]

Antonio Damasio uses "primordial feeling" to denote this class of sensations/motivations in his 2010 book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.[6]


  1. ^ Craig, A.D. (Bud) (2003). "Interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body" (PDF). Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 13 (4): 500–505. doi:10.1016/S0959-4388(03)00090-4. PMID 12965300.
  2. ^ Derek A. Denton (8 June 2006). The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness. Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-19-920314-7.
  3. ^ Craig, A.D. (Bud) (2008). "Interoception and emotion: A neuroanatomical perspective". In Lewis, M.; Haviland-Jones, J.M.; Feldman Barrett, L. (eds.). Handbook of Emotion (3 ed.). New York: The Guildford Press. pp. 272–288. ISBN 978-1-59385-650-2. Retrieved 6 September 2009.
  4. ^ Denton DA, McKinley MJ, Farrell M, Egan GF (June 2009). "The role of primordial emotions in the evolutionary origin of consciousness". Conscious Cogn. 18 (2): 500–14. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.06.009. PMID 18701321.
  5. ^ Emeran A. Mayer (August 2011). "Gut feelings: the emerging biology of gut–brain communication". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 12 (8): 453–466. doi:10.1038/nrn3071. PMC 3845678. PMID 21750565.
  6. ^ Ratcliffe, Matthew; Stephan, Achim (2014). Depression, Emotion and the Self. London: Andrews UK. ISBN 978-1845407469.