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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2018 Mar;147(3):398-408. doi: 10.1037/xge0000366. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Alexithymia is associated with a multidomain, multidimensional failure of interoception: Evidence from novel tests.

Author information

1
MRC Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London.
2
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London.

Abstract

Interoception, the perception of the body's internal state, contributes to numerous aspects of higher-order cognition. Several theories suggest a causal role for atypical interoception in specific psychiatric disorders, including a recent claim that atypical interoception represents a transdiagnostic impairment across disorders characterized by reduced perception of one's own emotion (alexithymia). Such theories are supported predominantly by evidence from only one interoceptive domain (cardiac); however, evidence of domain-specific interoceptive ability highlights the need to assess interoception in noncardiac domains. Using novel interoceptive tasks, we demonstrate that individuals high in alexithymic traits show a reduced propensity to utilize interoceptive cues to gauge respiratory output (Experiment 1), reduced accuracy on tasks of muscular effort (Experiment 2), and taste sensitivity (Experiment 3), unrelated to any co-occurring autism, depression, or anxiety. Results suggest that alexithymia reflects a multidomain, multidimensional failure of interoception, which is consistent with theories suggesting that atypical interoception may underpin both symptom commonalities between psychiatric disorders and heterogeneity within disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record.

PMID:
29154612
PMCID:
PMC5824617
DOI:
10.1037/xge0000366
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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