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. 2020 Feb;50(2):572-582.
doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-04279-4.

Dissociation in How Core Autism Features Relate to Interoceptive Dimensions: Evidence From Cardiac Awareness in Children

Free PMC article

Dissociation in How Core Autism Features Relate to Interoceptive Dimensions: Evidence From Cardiac Awareness in Children

E R Palser et al. J Autism Dev Disord. .
Free PMC article


Interoception in autism is receiving increasing research attention. Previously, differences were identified in autism on both objective and subjective measures of interoception, and an association with anxiety. Yet, it is currently unknown how interoception relates to core autism features. Here, in 49 autistic children, we consider how interoceptive accuracy (measured with heartbeat detection tasks) and sensibility (subjective judgements of awareness) relate to overall severity on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and symptom domains of social-affective and repetitive, restricted behaviors. Socio-affective features were related to interoceptive sensibility, while repetitive restricted behaviors were related to interoceptive accuracy. This dissociation suggests disparate interoceptive mechanisms for the formation and/or maintenance of autistic features.

Keywords: Affect; Autism; Interoception; Social Cognition.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Overall autism symptom severity was positively associated to heartbeat discrimination confidence, tapping interoceptive sensibility (Plot a). When symptom domains were considered separately, this relationship was replicated in the social affective domain (Plot b). Symptoms in the repetitive and restricted behavior domain, however, were related to heartbeat discrimination performance, tapping interoceptive accuracy (Plot c)

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