Follow your breath: respiratory interoceptive accuracy in experienced meditators

Psychophysiology. 2013 Aug;50(8):777-89. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12057. Epub 2013 May 22.


Attention to internal bodily sensations is a core feature of mindfulness meditation. Previous studies have not detected differences in interoceptive accuracy between meditators and nonmeditators on heartbeat detection and perception tasks. We compared differences in respiratory interoceptive accuracy between meditators and nonmeditators in the ability to detect and discriminate respiratory resistive loads and sustain accurate perception of respiratory tidal volume during nondistracted and distracted conditions. Groups did not differ in overall performance on the detection and discrimination tasks; however, meditators were more accurate in discriminating the resistive load with the lowest ceiling effect. Meditators were also more accurate during the nondistracted tracking task at a lag time of 1 s following the breath. Results provide initial support for the notion that meditators have greater respiratory interoceptive accuracy compared to nonmeditators.

Keywords: Anxiety; Interoceptive accuracy; Interoceptive awareness; Meditation; Mindfulness; Respiration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Self Concept
  • Tidal Volume / physiology