Interoceptive sensitivity and emotion processing: an EEG study

Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Sep;65(3):214-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2007.04.007. Epub 2007 Apr 29.


Theories of emotion consider the self-perception of visceral activity to play an important role in emotion. This study examined the relationship between interoceptive sensitivity and both the subjective emotional experience and the processing of emotional pictures. According to their results in a heartbeat detection task subjects were classified as good (N = 17) or poor (N = 20) heartbeat perceivers. Event-related potentials were recorded while subjects viewed pleasant, neutral and unpleasant pictures and SAM ratings were examined. Good heartbeat perceivers showed significantly greater P300 and slow wave amplitudes for emotional pictures at antero-inferior, medial and posterior electrode sites and experienced a greater arousal for emotional pictures compared to poor heartbeat perceivers. The heartbeat perception score correlated significantly positive both with emotional P300 and slow wave amplitudes as well as with the arousal ratings for emotional pictures. The results indicate that there is a significant and strong association between interoceptive sensitivity and the intensity of emotional experience as well as the central processing of emotional stimuli.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors