The individual sensitivity for ones internal bodily signals ("interoceptive awareness") has been shown to be of relevance for a broad range of cognitive and affective functions. Interoceptive awareness has been primarily assessed via measuring the sensitivity for ones cardiac signals ("cardiac awareness") which can be non-invasively measured by heartbeat perception tasks. It is an open question whether cardiac awareness is related to the sensitivity for other bodily, visceral functions. This study investigated the relationship between cardiac awareness and the sensitivity for gastric functions in healthy female persons by using non-invasive methods. Heartbeat perception as a measure for cardiac awareness was assessed by a heartbeat tracking task and gastric sensitivity was assessed by a water load test. Gastric myoelectrical activity was measured by electrogastrography (EGG) and subjective feelings of fullness, valence, arousal and nausea were assessed. The results show that cardiac awareness was inversely correlated with ingested water volume and with normogastric activity after water load. However, persons with good and poor cardiac awareness did not differ in their subjective ratings of fullness, nausea and affective feelings after drinking. This suggests that good heartbeat perceivers ingested less water because they subjectively felt more intense signals of fullness during this lower amount of water intake compared to poor heartbeat perceivers who ingested more water until feeling the same signs of fullness. These findings demonstrate that cardiac awareness is related to greater sensitivity for gastric functions, suggesting that there is a general sensitivity for interoceptive processes across the gastric and cardiac modality. © 2012 Herbert et al.
Herbert, B. M., Muth, E. R., Pollatos, O., & Herbert, C. (2012). Interoception across modalities: On the relationship between cardiac awareness and the sensitivity for gastric functions. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036646