Author: Andrea Zaccaro1, Mauro Gianni Perrucci2, Eleonora Parrotta3, Marcello Costantini4, Francesca Ferri2
1 Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, "G. d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
2 Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, "G. d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies ‑ ITAB, "G. d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
3 School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
4 Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences, "G. d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies ‑ ITAB, "G. d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
Date published: 2022 Aug 11
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119548. , Word Count: 314
Respiration and heartbeat continuously interact within the living organism at many different levels, representing two of the main oscillatory rhythms of the body and providing major sources of interoceptive information to the brain. Despite the modulatory effect of respiration on exteroception and cognition has been recently established in humans, its role in shaping interoceptive perception has been scarcely investigated so far. In two independent studies, we investigated the effect of spontaneous breathing on cardiac interoception by assessing the Heartbeat Evoked Potential (HEP) in healthy humans. In Study 1, we compared HEP activity for heartbeats occurred during inhalation and exhalation in 40 volunteers at rest. We found higher HEP amplitude during exhalation, compared to inhalation, over fronto-centro-parietal areas. This suggests increased brain-heart interactions and improved cortical processing of the heartbeats during exhalation. Additionally, further analyses revealed that this effect was also moderated by heart rate changes. In Study 2, we tested the respiratory phase-dependent modulation of HEP activity in 20 volunteers during Exteroceptive and Interoceptive conditions of the Heartbeat Detection (HBD) task. In these conditions, participants were requested to tap at each heartbeat, either listened to or felt, respectively. Results showed higher HEP activity and higher detection accuracy at exhalation than inhalation in the Interoceptive condition only. Direct comparisons of Interoceptive and Exteroceptive conditions confirmed stronger respiratory phase-dependent modulation of HEP and accuracy when attention was directed towards the interoceptive stimuli. Moreover, HEP changes during the Interoceptive condition were independent of heart physiology, but were positively correlated with higher detection accuracy at exhalation than inhalation. This suggests a link between optimization of cortical processing of cardiac signals and detection of heartbeats across the respiratory cycle. Overall, we provide data showing that respiration shapes cardiac interoception at the neurophysiological and behavioural levels. Specifically, exhalation may allow attentional shift towards the internal bodily states.
Keywords: heartbeat detection task; heartbeat evoked potential; interoception; predictive coding; respiration; respiratory phase.
PMID: 35964864 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119548