Individual differences in the interoceptive states of hunger, fullness and thirst

Richard J. Stevenson*, Mehmet Mahmut, Kieron Rooney

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Interoception is the ability to perceive internal bodily states. This involves the detection and awareness of static and changing afferent signals from the viscera, motivational states, affective reactions, and associated cognitions. We examined whether there are individual differences in any or all of these aspects of ingestion-related interoception and their possible causes. Individual variation in almost all aspects of interoception was documented for hunger, fullness and thirst - including how participants use, prioritise and integrate visceral, motivational, affective and cognitive information. Individual differences may arise from multiple causes, including genetic influences, developmental changes hypothesised to result from child feeding practices, and from conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and certain subtypes of obesity. A nutritionally poor diet, and dietary restraint, may also affect ingestion-related interoception. Finally, certain forms of brain injury, notably to the medial temporal lobes are associated with impaired ingestion-related interoception. We conclude by examining the practical and theoretical consequences of these individual differences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-57
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • hunger
    • fullness
    • thirst
    • interoception


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