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See detailDistinctive body perception mechanisms in high versus low symptom reporters: a neurophysiological model for medically-unexplained symptoms
Schulz, André UL; Rost, Silke; Flasinski, Tabea et al

in Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2020), 137(1), 110223

OBJECTIVE: The neurophysiological processes involved in the generation of medicallyunexplained symptoms (MUS) remain unclear. This study tested three assumptions of the perception-filter model ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: The neurophysiological processes involved in the generation of medicallyunexplained symptoms (MUS) remain unclear. This study tested three assumptions of the perception-filter model contributing to MUS: (I.) increased bodily signal strength (II.) decreased filter function, (III.) increased perception. METHODS: In this cross-sectional, observational study, trait MUS was assessed by a webbased survey (N=486). The upper and lower decile were identified as extreme groups of high (HSR; n=29; 26 women; Mage=26.0 years) and low symptom reporters (LSR; n=29; 21 women; Mage=28.4 years). Mean heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), and cortisol awakening response (CAR) were assessed as indicators of bodily signal strength (I.). Heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEPs) were assessed during rest and a heartbeat perception task. HEPs reflect attentional resources allocated towards heartbeats and served as index of filter function (II.). Interoceptive accuracy (IAc) in heartbeat perception was assessed as an indicator of perception (III.). RESULTS: HSR showed higher HR and lower HRV (RMSSD) than LSR (I.), but no differences in CAR. HSR exhibited a stronger increase of HEPs when attention was focused on heartbeats than LSR (II.); there were no group differences in IAc (III.). CONCLUSIONS: The perception-filter model was partially confirmed in that HSR showed altered bodily signals suggesting higher sympathetic activity (I.); higher HEP increases indicated increased filter function for bodily signals (II.). As more attentional resources are mobilized to process heartbeats, but perception accuracy remains unchanged (III.), this overflow could be responsible for detecting minor bodily changes associated with MUS. [less ▲]

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See detailAltered interoceptive awareness in high habitual symptom reporters and patients with somatoform disorders
Flasinski, Tabea; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Rost, Silke et al

in Frontiers in Psychology (2020), 11(1), 1859

Objective. Altered interoception may play a major role in the etiology of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). It remains unclear, however, if these alterations concerns noticing of signals or if they ... [more ▼]

Objective. Altered interoception may play a major role in the etiology of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). It remains unclear, however, if these alterations concerns noticing of signals or if they are limited to the interpretation of signals. We investigated whether individuals with MUS differ in interoceptive awareness as assessed with the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) questionnaire. Methods. Study 1: 486 individuals completed the Screening for Somatoform Disorders (SOMS-2). 32 individuals each of the upper and lower decile of the SOMS distribution (low symptom reporters/LSR, high symptom reporters/HSR) completed the MAIA. Study 2: MAIA scores of individuals diagnosed with somatoform disorder (SFD; n = 26) were compared to individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD; n = 25) and healthy controls (HC; n = 26). Results. HSR had lower scores than LSR on the MAIA scales Not-Distracting and Not-Worrying. The SFD and MDD groups showed lower scores than HC on the MAIA scales Not-Distracting, Self-Regulation, and Trusting. The MDD group scored lower than the other two groups on the scales Body Listening and Attention Regulation. There were no group differences on the scale Noticing. Conclusion. HSR, SFD and MDD patients do not differ from HC in the awareness of noticing of interoceptive signal processing, whereas cognitive facets of interoception, such as distraction or self-regulation are differentially affected. This highlights the necessity of including specifically targeted interventions, which improve interoceptive awareness, in the prevention and treatment of SFDs. [less ▲]

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See detailTask interference and distraction efficacy in patients with fibromyalgia: an experimental investigation
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Rost, Silke; Kissi, Ama et al

in Pain (2018), 159(6), 1119-1126

Pain has the capacity to interfere with daily tasks. Although task interference by pain is largely unintentional, it can be controlled to a certain extent. Such top-down control over pain has been thought ... [more ▼]

Pain has the capacity to interfere with daily tasks. Although task interference by pain is largely unintentional, it can be controlled to a certain extent. Such top-down control over pain has been thought to be reduced in fibromyalgia patients. In this study, we investigated task interference and distraction efficacy in fibromyalgia patients (FM) and a matched healthy control group. Forty-nine fibromyalgia patients and 49 heathy volunteers performed as quickly as possible (a) a visual localization task in the presence of non-painful vibrating or painful electric somatic stimuli, and (b) a somatosensory localization task (using non-painful or painful stimuli). Participants reported on their experience of the somatic stimuli on some of the trials during both localisation tasks. Results indicated that pain interferes with performance of the visual task, in both FM patients and healthy individuals. Furthermore, participants experienced the pain stimulus as less intense when directing attention away from the pain than when focusing on the pain. Overall, task performance of FM patients was slower compared to the task performance in the healthy control group. In contrast to our hypotheses, FM patients and healthy volunteers did not differ in the magnitude of the interference effect and distraction-efficacy. In conclusion, current study provides support for contemporary theories claiming that attention modulates the experience of pain and vice versa. However, no evidence was however found for an altered attentional processing of pain in fibromyalgia patients. Furthermore, results indicate that task interference and distraction-efficacy are not just two sides of the same coin. [less ▲]

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See detailKardiale Modulation der Schreckreaktion bei hoher gegenüber niedriger Symptombelastung: afferente Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse beein usst frühe Stimulus-Verarbeitung bei hoher Symptombelastung
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Rost, Silke; Lutz, Annika UL et al

in Hennig, J.; Stark, R. (Eds.) Abstractband Psychologie und Gehirn 2018 (2018)

Somatische Belastungsstörungen (SBS) sind oftmals durch andauernde medizinisch- unerklärte Symptome gekennzeichnet, deren Entstehung größtenteils ungeklärt ist. Diese Studie hatte zum Ziel, die empirisch ... [more ▼]

Somatische Belastungsstörungen (SBS) sind oftmals durch andauernde medizinisch- unerklärte Symptome gekennzeichnet, deren Entstehung größtenteils ungeklärt ist. Diese Studie hatte zum Ziel, die empirisch bislang unbeantwortete Frage zu klären, ob Symptomentstehung auf veränderte Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse zurückzuführen ist. Zunächst wurden 486 Personen aus der Allgemeinbevölkerung anhand des SOMS-2 in Personen mit hoher Symptombelastung (HSB; unterstes Perzentil) und niedriger Symptombelastung (NSB; oberstes Perzentil) unterteilt. Personen mit HSB stellen eine besondere Risikogruppe für SBS dar. 28 HSB- und 31 NSB-Personen durchliefen ein Paradigma der kardialen Modulation der Schreckreaktion (CMS), ein Verfahren, das kardio-afferente Signalübermittlung prä-attentiv abbilden kann. Ihnen wurden je zehn akustische Schreckreize (105 dB) in sechs Zeitpunkten nach der kardialen R-Zacke (0, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 ms) präsentiert. Als Indikator für die Schreckreaktion wurden die N1- und P2-Amplitude der auditorisch-evozierten Potenziale über Cz gemessen, da der Effekt der Hirn-Körper-Signalübermittlung im Kortex abgebildet werden sollte. Es zeigten sich geringere N1-Amplituden auf die Schreckreize, die während der systolischen Phase (200, 300 ms) im Vergleich zur diastolischen Phase (0 ms) präsentiert wurden (p=.0002), was für das Vorliegen eines CMS-Effekts spricht. Die HSB-Gruppe zeigte höhere P2-Amplituden als die NSB-Gruppe. Es zeigte sich außerdem, dass der CMS-Effekt bezüglich der N1-Komponente in der HSB-Gruppe geringer ist (p=.035), jedoch bezüglich der P2-Komponente stärker ist als in der NSB-Gruppe (p=.031). Afferente Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse könnte bei Personen mit HSB bereits frühe, automatischeWahrnehmungsprozesse verändern, die durch späte, aufmerksamkeits-gesteuerte Prozesse kompensiert werden. Diese prä-attentive Beeinflussung der Stimulus-Verarbeitung könnte ein Mechanismus der Symptomentstehung bei Personen mit HSB und SBS sein. [less ▲]

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See detailSensing Your Body: Interoceptive Awareness and Medically Unexplained Symptoms
Flasinski, Tabea UL; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Voderholzer, Ulrich et al

in Abtracts of the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society (2018)

According to contemporary theories of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), alterations in interoception play a major role in symptom development and maintenance. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying ... [more ▼]

According to contemporary theories of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), alterations in interoception play a major role in symptom development and maintenance. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remains unclear. To address this unresolved issue, we investigated whether individuals with varying degrees of MUS differ in different facets of interoceptive awareness as assessed with the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) questionnaire. In study 1, 486 individuals were screened with an online version of the Screening for Somatoform Disorders (SOMS-2). Individuals with a SOMS index below 5 (low reporter, n=32) and above 20 (high reporter, n=32) were invited to fill in the MAIA. High symptom reporter had lower scores on the Not-Distracting, Not-Worrying, and Trusting subscales, and higher scores on the Emotional Awareness subscale (Cohen´s d=.70–1.16). In study 2, individuals with DSM-IV somatoform disorder (SFD; n=25) were compared to individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD; n=24) and healthy controls (HC; n=25). The SFD and MDD groups had lower scores on the Not-Distracting, Attention Regulation, Self-Regulation, and Trusting subscales than HC. The MDD group had lower scores than the SFD and HC groups on the Body Listening subscale (partial eta-squared=.18-.26). No differences with regard to Noticing of bodily sensations were found. Groups with subclinical SFD, SFD and MDD do not differ from healthy individuals in terms of actual body perception, whereas cognitive facets of interoception, such as distraction or self-regulation are differentially affected. This highlights the necessity of including specifically targeted mindfulness-based interventions [less ▲]

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