, Volume 236, Issue 8, pp 2405–2412 | Cite as

Modeling subjective belief states in computational psychiatry: interoceptive inference as a candidate framework

  • Xiaosi GuEmail author
  • Thomas H. B. FitzGerald
  • Karl J. Friston
Theoretical and Methodological Perspective


The nascent field computational psychiatry has undergone exponential growth since its inception. To date, much of the published work has focused on choice behaviors, which are primarily modeled within a reinforcement learning framework. While this initial normative effort represents a milestone in psychiatry research, the reality is that many psychiatric disorders are defined by disturbances in subjective states (e.g., depression, anxiety) and associated beliefs (e.g., dysmorphophobia, paranoid ideation), which are not considered in normative models. In this paper, we present interoceptive inference as a candidate framework for modeling subjective—and associated belief—states in computational psychiatry. We first introduce the notion and significance of modeling subjective states in computational psychiatry. Next, we present the interoceptive inference framework, and in particular focus on the relationship between interoceptive inference (i.e., belief updating) and emotions. Lastly, we will use drug craving as an example of subjective states to demonstrate the feasibility of using interoceptive inference to model the psychopathology of subjective states.


Subjective beliefs states Computational psychiatry Interoceptive inference Emotion Craving 



XG is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant 1R01DA043695) and the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC VISN 2) at the James J. Peter Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, NY. THBF is supported by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant under the Horizon 2020 program (Grant Agreement 804701). KF is a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow (Ref: 088130/Z/09/Z).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Nash Family Department of NeuroscienceIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC VISN 2) at the James J. Peter Veterans Affairs Medical CenterBronxUSA
  4. 4.School of PsychologyUniversity of East AngliaNorfolkUK
  5. 5.Wellcome Centre for Human NeuroimagingUniversity College LondonLondonEngland
  6. 6.Max Planck-UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing ResearchRussell Square HouseLondonUK

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