Interoceptive Stimulus Control of Behavior

  • Travis Thompson
  • Roy Pickens


That behavior occurs differentially with respect to events occurring in the internal environment of organisms is well known. Investigations by neurophysiologists in the early 1800s left no doubt that afferent nerve fibers originating in blood vessels, the gastrointestinal tract, and the mesentery and urogenital systems carry sensory information to the brain. The receptors excited by stimuli arising within the organism were called interoceptors. By the middle of that century, pulmonary interoceptors controlling breathing, aortal receptors regulating cardiovascular responses, and deep muscle receptors concerned with coordinating reflex muscle activity were isolated and their functions studied. In 1880 Pavlov concluded that all internal tissues contained interoceptors capable of controlling unconditioned (reflex) responses (Bykov, 1957). It was not until almost 50 years later that interoceptors were found to be capable of controlling conditioned (learned) behavior as well.


Conditioned Stimulus Unconditioned Stimulus Conditioned Response Operant Behavior Unconditioned Response 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Travis Thompson
    • 1
  • Roy Pickens
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and PharmacologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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