Homeostatic emotion Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeostatic_emotion

This image divides the insula into its anterior, mid, and posterior regions, with each being denoted by different colors.
Anterior cingulate cortex hilighted on the inner surface of a human brain hemisphere

Homeostatic feeling (or homeostatic affect, or homeostatic emotion, or primordial emotion) is a class of feelings (e.g., thirst, pain, fatigue) evoked by an internal body state. Homeostatic feelings drive specific behavior (drinking, withdrawing and resting in these examples) aimed at maintaining the body in its ideal state.[1][2][3]

Derek Denton uses the term "primordial emotion" and defines it 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]

Denton includes sexual desire in this class[5] and distinguishes two classes of feelings:

  1. these primordial emotions ("imperious states of arousal and compelling intentions to act" driven by activation of interoceptors and involving ancient, lower brain regions such as the medulla, midbrain and hypothalamus), and
  2. the classic emotions such as anger, fear and love, driven by distance receptors (vision, hearing, olfaction) and mediated by higher, more recently evolved brain regions.[6]

Jaak Panksepp called this class of feelings "homeostatic affect." He recognised it as one of three primary classes of affect: sensory affect (e.g., touch, warmth), homeostatic affect (e.g., thirst, fatigue) and emotional affect (e.g., anger, fear).[7]

In his earlier work Antonio Damasio used "primordial feeling" but he now prefers the term "homeostatic feeling" for this class. "The only other category of feelings I recognize is 'emotional'. Emotional feelings are experiences of emotional states. Homeostatic feelings are feelings such as hunger, thirst, pain, desire, wellbeing, as well as the continuous feelings of life itself."[8][9]

Bud Craig uses "homeostatic emotion" for this class of feelings and has found 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 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.[10]

The endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) play an important role in the regulation of emotional homeostasis,[11][12] and the primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis itself.[13][14]


  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. S2CID 16369323.
  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. S2CID 14995914.
  5. ^ Denton, Derek A. (2006). The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-920314-7.
  6. ^ Jablonka E & Ginsberg S (2006) Book review. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13(6) pp. 97–122
  7. ^ Ellis, Ralph D.; Zachar, Peter (2012). Categorical Versus Dimensional Models of Affect: A Seminar on the Theories of Panksepp and Russell. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 244. ISBN 978-90-272-4157-3.
  8. ^ Ratcliffe, Matthew; Stephan, Achim (2014). Depression, Emotion and the Self. London: Andrews UK. ISBN 978-1845407469.
  9. ^ Damasio, Antonio; Damasio, Hanna (2022-05-30). "Homeostatic feelings and the biology of consciousness". Brain: awac194. doi:10.1093/brain/awac194. ISSN 0006-8950. PMID 35640272.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Serrano, Antonia; Natividad, Luis A. (2022-05-19). "Alcohol-Endocannabinoid Interactions: Implications for Addiction-Related Behavioral Processes". Alcohol Research : Current Reviews. 42 (1): 09. doi:10.35946/arcr.v42.1.09. ISSN 2168-3492. PMC 9132373. PMID 35655710.
  12. ^ Marco, E. M.; Viveros, M. P. (2009). "[Functional role of the endocannabinoid system in emotional homeostasis]". Revista De Neurologia. 48 (1): 20–26. ISSN 1576-6578. PMID 19145562.
  13. ^ de Melo Reis, Ricardo Augusto; Isaac, Alinny Rosendo; Freitas, Hércules Rezende; de Almeida, Mariana Macedo; Schuck, Patricia Fernanda; Ferreira, Gustavo Costa; Andrade-da-Costa, Belmira Lara da Silveira; Trevenzoli, Isis Hara (2021-10-28). "Quality of Life and a Surveillant Endocannabinoid System". Frontiers in Neuroscience. 15: 747229. doi:10.3389/fnins.2021.747229. ISSN 1662-4548. PMC 8581450. PMID 34776851.
  14. ^ Lowe, Henry; Toyang, Ngeh; Steele, Blair; Bryant, Joseph; Ngwa, Wilfred (2021-08-31). "The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22 (17): 9472. doi:10.3390/ijms22179472. ISSN 1422-0067. PMC 8430969. PMID 34502379.