The impact of cardiac afferent signaling and interoceptive abilities on passive information sampling

Author: Aleksandra M Herman1, Manos Tsakiris2
1 Laboratory of Brain Imaging, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland; Lab of Action & Body, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Electronic address:
2 Lab of Action & Body, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; The Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK; Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
Conference/Journal: Int J Psychophysiol
Date published: 2021 Feb 11
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2021.02.010. , Word Count: 222

A growing body of research suggests that perception and cognition are affected by fluctuating bodily states. For example, the rate of information sampling is coupled with cardiac phases. However, the benefits of such spontaneous coupling between bodily oscillations and decision-making remains unclear. Here, we studied the role of the cardiac cycle in information sampling by testing whether sequential information sampling phase-locked to systolic or diastolic parts of the cardiac cycle impacts the rate of information gathering and processing. To this aim, we employed a modified Information Sampling Task, a standard measure of the rate of information gathering before reaching a decision, in which the onset of new information delivery in each trial was coupled either to cardiac systole or diastole. Information presented within cardiac systole did not significantly modulate the information processing in a manner that would produce clear behavioral changes. However, we found evidence suggesting that higher interoceptive awareness increased accuracy, especially in the costly version of the task, when new information was sequentially presented at systole. Overall, our results add to a growing body of research on body-brain interactions and suggest that our internal bodily rhythms (i.e., heartbeats) and our awareness of them can interact with the way we process the noisy world around us.

Keywords: Baroreceptor; Cardiac cycle; Decision-making; Heartbeat; Information sampling task; Interoception.

PMID: 33582219 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2021.02.010