The Relationship Between Functional Connectivity and Interoceptive Sensibility

Author: Stephen D Smith1, Catherine Nadeau2, Megan Sorokopud-Jones3,4, Jennifer Kornelsen5,6
1 University of Winnipeg, 8665, Psychology, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3B 2E9;
2 University of Winnipeg, 8665, Psychology, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
3 University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine, 12359, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
4 University of Winnipeg, 8665, Psychology, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
5 University of Manitoba College of Medicine, 12359, Radiology, 820 Sherbrook St, GA216, Winnipeg, Canada, R3T 2N2.
6 St. Boniface Hospital Research, 371 Taché Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R2H 2A6;
Conference/Journal: Brain Connect
Date published: 2021 Jul 1
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/brain.2020.0777. , Word Count: 247

Interoceptive signals related to changes in heartbeat, respiration, and gastric functioning continuously feedback to the brain. The interpretation of these signals influences several cognitive, affective, and motoric functions. Previous research has highlighted the distinction between the ability to accurately detect interoceptive information (i.e., interoceptive accuracy) and an individual's beliefs about his or her interoceptive abilities (i.e., interoceptive sensibility). Although numerous studies have delineated the neural substrates of interoceptive accuracy, less is known about the brain areas involved with interoceptive sensibility.

In the current study, twenty-eight healthy participants completed the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA), a self-report measure of interoceptive sensibility, prior to undergoing a 7-minute resting-state functional MRI scan.

Overall MAIA scores, as well as scores on its eight subscales, were entered as covariates in subsequent region-of-interest (ROI) and independent-component analyses (ICA). These analyses yielded three key results. First, interoceptive sensibility was negatively correlated with the functional connectivity of visual regions. Second, the cerebellar resting-state network showed positive correlations with two MAIA subscales, suggesting that this structure plays a role in interoceptive functions. Finally, the functional connectivity of the insula, a structure critical for interoceptive accuracy, was not correlated with any of the MAIA scores.

These results demonstrate that the brain areas associated with individual differences in interoceptive sensibility show relatively little overlap with those involved with the accurate detection of interoceptive information.

Keywords: Functional connectivity; Resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (R-fMRI); Resting-state networks; Sensory system.

PMID: 34210151 DOI: 10.1089/brain.2020.0777