In this paper, we integrate recent theoretical and empirical developments in predictive coding and active inference accounts of interoception (including the Embodied Predictive Interoception Coding model) with working hypotheses from the theory of constructed emotion to propose a biologically plausible unified theory of the mind that places metabolism and energy regulation (i.e. allostasis), as well as the sensory consequences of that regulation (i.e. interoception), at its core. We then consider the implications of this approach for understanding depression. We speculate that depression is a disorder of allostasis, whose myriad symptoms result from a ‘locked in’ brain that is relatively insensitive to its sensory context. We conclude with a brief discussion of the ways our approach might reveal new insights for the treatment of depression.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interoception beyond homeostasis: affect, cognition and mental health’.
- Accepted August 19, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.