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Atzil, S. Barrett, L.F. (2017). Social regulation of allostasis: Commentary on Mentalizing homeostasis: The social origins of interoceptive inference by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris. Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):29-33.

(2017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):29-33

Commentaries

Social regulation of allostasis: Commentary on Mentalizing homeostasis: The social origins of interoceptive inference by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris

Shir Atzil and Lisa Feldman Barrett

The paper by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris proposes that the most fundamental features of a human (e.g. the minimal self), including sensation, interoception and affect, develop in a relational manner, and rely on self-related concepts (e.g. mentalizing homeostasis) learned in a social context. Indeed, a growing body of literature supports this theory and emphasizes the role of social regulation during development. In support of Fotopoulou and Tsakiris, we too propose that the brain is fundamentally designed for allostasis, and that all feeling, thinking and perceiving proceeds with allostasis, its sensory consequences (interoception) and their low dimensional features (affect) at the core. We propose that infants depend on their caretakers for survival, such that social dyads keep the infant alive by promoting learning of a conceptual system for how to make sense of the body in the world. Within social dyads, infants brains learn to conceptualize interoceptive and other perceptual information in the service of self-regulation. We further propose that the neural capacities for social functioning does not derive from inborn modules, but instead develop within social dyads while caregivers intentionally establish and support allostasis in the infant.

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