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Neurosci Lett. 2018 Dec 17;696:108-113. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.12.022. [Epub ahead of print]

Modulating interoception by insula stimulation: A double-blinded tDCS study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Viale Ellittico 31, 81100 Caserta, Italy. Electronic address: laura.sagliano@unicampania.it.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Viale Ellittico 31, 81100 Caserta, Italy.
3
Istituto di Elettronica e di Ingegneria dell'Informazione e delle Telecomunicazioni IEIIT, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy.

Abstract

Interoception consists in the perception and processing of internal body signals, such as heartbeat. Previous neuroimaging studies revealed that attention to heartbeat activated bilateral insula and premotor regions. In the present double-blind study, we aimed at testing the role of insula in interoception by means of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) interfering with its activity. Sixteen healthy participants responded to a questionnaire to evaluate the tendency to be internally focused and performed a heartbeat counting task before and after tDCS in three sessions (left insula stimulation, right insula stimulation, sham stimulation). Real and reported heartbeat were recorded and used to calculate the accuracy scores. A significant interaction between stimulation condition and time (pre- and post-stimulation) was found due to a significant improvement of the interoceptive accuracy in the sham condition only. Our results demonstrated that stimulation over the insula reduced the possibility to improve the precision with which individuals detect internal signals.

KEYWORDS:

Brain stimulation; Heartbeat counting task; Insula; Interoception; tDCS

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