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Prof. James Kilner | The role of internal bodily signals in action and perception

MindBrainBody Lecture
Interoception refers to the set of physiological and cognitive processes that are involved in determining the physiological condition of the body. Recently, the number of studies showing the extent to which interoceptive signals such as heartbeat modulate cognition and perception in the healthy and atypical human brain has markedly increased. This has been shown by measuring participants’ responses to sensory events that are locked to distinct phases of the cardiac cycle. These studies have shown that perception and cognition are modulated by the phase of the cardiac cycle in which the stimuli were presented. However, it is unclear how these results relate to our everyday interaction with the world where sensory inputs are not presented according to our cardiac cycle, but rather actively sampled at one’s own pace. Moreover, if the phase of the cardiac cycle is an important modulator of perception and cognition, as previously proposed, then the way in which we actively sample the world should be similarly modulated by the phase of the cardiac cycle. One possibility is that we sample the world in a way that is linked to our cardiac signal and in this way optimize the sampling of our sensory inputs. Here, I will talk about a series of studies designed to test this hypothesis and I will discuss these results in relation to current theoretical models of interoception. [more]
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