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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jul 9;116(28):13897-13902. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1821032116. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

An interoceptive illusion of effort induced by false heart-rate feedback.

Author information

1
Centre d'Etudes des Transformations des Activités Physiques et Sportives, University of Normandy, 76821 Mont Saint Aignan, France.
2
Dipartimento di Psicologia, Sapienza, Università degli studi di Roma, 00185, Rome, Italy.
3
Laboratorio di Neuroscienze Sociali, Fondazione Santa Lucia, 00142, Rome, Italy.
4
Dipartimento di di Psicologia dei Processi di Sviluppo e Socializzazione, Sapienza, Università degli studi di Roma, 00185, Rome, Italy.
5
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council, 00185, Rome, Italy.
6
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council, 00185, Rome, Italy giovanni.pezzulo@istc.cnr.it.

Abstract

Interoception, or the sense of the internal state of the body, is key to the adaptive regulation of our physiological needs. Recent theories contextualize interception within a predictive coding framework, according to which the brain both estimates and controls homeostatic and physiological variables, such as hunger, thirst, and effort levels, by orchestrating sensory, proprioceptive, and interoceptive signals from inside the body. This framework suggests that providing false interoceptive feedback may induce misperceptions of physiological variables, or "interoceptive illusions." Here we ask whether it is possible to produce an illusory perception of effort by giving participants false acoustic feedback about their heart-rate frequency during an effortful cycling task. We found that participants reported higher levels of perceived effort when their heart-rate feedback was faster compared with when they cycled at the same level of intensity with a veridical feedback. However, participants did not report lower effort when their heart-rate feedback was slower, which is reassuring, given that failing to notice one's own effort is dangerous in ecologically valid conditions. Our results demonstrate that false cardiac feedback can produce interoceptive illusions. Furthermore, our results pave the way for novel experimental manipulations that use illusions to study interoceptive processing.

KEYWORDS:

heartbeat; illusion of effort; interoception; interoceptive illusion

PMID:
31235576
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1821032116

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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