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See detailMothers’ and fathers’ reflective functioning and its association with parenting behaviors and cortisol reactivity during a conflict interaction with their adolescent children
Decarli, Alessandro; Schulz, André UL; Pierrehumbert, Blaise et al

in Emotion (in press)

We assessed parental reflective functioning (PRF) with the Parent Development Interview - Revised, and investigated its association with parenting behaviors, i.e., autonomy support and psychological ... [more ▼]

We assessed parental reflective functioning (PRF) with the Parent Development Interview - Revised, and investigated its association with parenting behaviors, i.e., autonomy support and psychological control (operationalized in terms of behaviors promoting and undermining autonomy relatedness), and stress responses (cortisol reactivity) during a parent-child conflict interaction task (Family Interaction Task). Participants were 40 mothers and 28 fathers, who took part in the study together with their adolescent children (N = 49). Mothers had significantly lower PRF and displayed more psychologically controlling behaviors in the interaction with their children than fathers. Rather than sex per se, high levels of PRF were the best predictors of autonomy support, whereas lower levels of PRF predicted more psychological control. Higher levels of PRF were also the best predictor for lower levels of parenting stress. Stress in the context of parenting was neither related to autonomy support nor to psychological control, which were best predicted by divorced family status. The findings point to the potential utility of interventions aimed at improving PRF and stress management in the context of parenting, especially in divorced families, given their protective effects on parenting behaviors. [less ▲]

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See detailHigher cardiovascular activation, but normal heartbeat-evoked potentials and cardiac interoceptive accuracy in somatoform disorders and major depressive disorder
Schulz, André UL; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Lutz, Annika UL et al

in Psychiatry Research Communications (2022), 2(3), 100052

The perception-filter model posits that the generation of medically-unexplained symptoms is associated with (I.) more intense afferent bodily signals, (II.) impaired filter system activity to ... [more ▼]

The perception-filter model posits that the generation of medically-unexplained symptoms is associated with (I.) more intense afferent bodily signals, (II.) impaired filter system activity to differentiate relevant from irrelevant signals, and (III.) altered perception of bodily signals. We tested these assumptions for cardiac perception in patients with somatoform disorders (SFD), patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy control (HC) individuals. Heart rate (variability; HR/HRV) and blood pressure served as indicators of bodily signals (I.); heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEPs) assessed during a heartbeat counting task (HCT) and a distraction task indicated filter system activity (II.); interoceptive accuracy (IAc) in the HCT was interpreted as an index of perception (III.). All indicators were assessed before and after a socially-evaluated cold pressor stress task (SECPT) and a control intervention. SFD patients (n ​= ​24) showed higher average HR and diastolic blood pressure, as well as lower HRV than HC individuals (n ​= ​22), but there were no differences in HEPs or IAc. Neither were there significant differences between the SFD and the MDD groups (n ​= ​24), nor any stress effect on HEPs or IAc. Our findings suggest that increased intensity of bodily signals (I.) is the only model assumption that could be supported for patients with fully-developed SFD. [less ▲]

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See detailMental Health and Well-Being in Adolescence: The Role of Child Attachment and Parental Reflective Functioning
Decarli, Alessandro; Pierrehumbert, Blaise; Schulz, André UL et al

in Heinen, Andreas; Samuel, Robin; Vögele, Claus (Eds.) et al Wohlbefinden und Gesundheit im Jugendalter (2022)

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See detailGastrische Interozeption und gastrische myoelektrische Aktivität bei chronisch-entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen und Reizdarmsyndrom
Schulz, André UL; Welsch, Sina; Etringer, Sarah et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

Viszerale Hypersensitivität wird als zentraler Mechanismus bei chronisch-entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen (CED) und Reizdarmsyndrom (RDS) diskutiert, welche beide mit einer erheblichen Einschränkung der ... [more ▼]

Viszerale Hypersensitivität wird als zentraler Mechanismus bei chronisch-entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen (CED) und Reizdarmsyndrom (RDS) diskutiert, welche beide mit einer erheblichen Einschränkung der Lebensqualität einhergehen. Bisherige Studien verwenden zumeist invasive Verfahren, die jedoch typischerweise mit der Messung viszeraler Wahrnehmung interferieren. Diese Studie untersucht daher, ob CED und RDS mit einer veränderten Wahrnehmung „natürlicher“ (nicht-invasiver) gastrischer Dehnungen assoziiert sind („Interozeption“). Zwanzig CED-Patienten in Remission (13 Morbus Crohn, 7 Colitis Ulcerosa), 12 RDS-Patienten, sowie 20/12 parallelisierte gesunde Kontrollprobanden absolvierten den 2-stufigen Water-Load-Test, bei dem eine beliebige Menge Wasser getrunken wird, bis die subjektiven Schwelle der Sättigung (Stufe 1) und des Völlegefühls (Stufe 2) erreicht sind. Gastrische Motilität wurde mittels Elektrogastrographie untersucht. CED-Patienten tranken signifikant mehr Wasser bis zur Sättigungsschwelle als RDS-Patienten, während es keine Unterschiede zu den Kontrollgruppen gab. Die getrunkene Wassermenge bis zur Schwelle des Völlegefühls unterschied sich nicht zwischen den Gruppen. Die elektrogastrographischen Muster zeigten ebenfalls keine Gruppenunterschiede, was impliziert, dass es keine Pathologien in der gastrischen Motilität gab. Die getrunkene Wassermenge bis zur Sättigung korrelierte negativ mit darmbezogener Lebensqualität bei CED-Patienten, aber positiv mit emotionalem Wohlbefinden bei RDS-Patienten. Diese Ergebnisse legen eine relative gastrische Hypersensitivität bei RDS und eine relative gastrische Hyposensitivität bei CED nahe, was jeweils mit spezifischen Facetten der wahrgenommenen Lebensqualität assoziiert ist. [less ▲]

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See detailDistraction from Pain in Aging – the Impact of Acute Stress
Dierolf, Angelika UL; van der Meulen, Marian UL; Schulz, André UL et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

While older people report acute and chronic pain more often than younger people, and, therefore, would benefit significantly from non-pharmacological pain treatment, little is known about how age affects ... [more ▼]

While older people report acute and chronic pain more often than younger people, and, therefore, would benefit significantly from non-pharmacological pain treatment, little is known about how age affects psychological strategies of pain modulation. Distraction from pain by cognitive engagement, an efficient pain modulation strategy, relies on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC, however, is an area affected by age-related cognitive decline, which might lead to reduced pain relief through distraction in older adults. Acute stress, a common concomitant phenomenon of pain, might additionally reduce the pain relief effect by its negative impact on PFC and PFC-based executive functions. Healthy young (18-30 years) and older participants (65+ years) performed a pain distraction task before and after acute stress induction using the Trier Social Stress Test, or a respective control condition. An n-Back working memory task with low and high cognitive load served as the distraction paradigm, during which participants received non-painful and moderately painful stimuli. These stimuli were individually adjusted transdermal electrical pulse trains to the inner forearm and participants rated them regarding their intensity and unpleasantness. Pain-related evoked potentials were recorded with a 64-channel EEG, and several saliva samples were collected to measure hormonal stress responses. First analyses on the currently small sample suggest a negative impact of acute stress on distraction from pain in both age groups. Our final results will contribute to a deeper understanding on the efficacy of pain modulation in aging and potential influencing factors, helping to optimize pain treatments in this population. [less ▲]

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See detailInterozeptive Verarbeitung bei Psychopathologie: pharmakologische und neurophysiologische Konzeptualisierungen und Interventionen
Schulz, André UL; Bertsch, Katja

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

Interozeption umfasst die Repräsentation, Verarbeitung und Wahrnehmung körpereigener Prozesse. Veränderungen der Interozeption sind potenziell transdiagnostische Störungsmechanismen bei Psychopathologie ... [more ▼]

Interozeption umfasst die Repräsentation, Verarbeitung und Wahrnehmung körpereigener Prozesse. Veränderungen der Interozeption sind potenziell transdiagnostische Störungsmechanismen bei Psychopathologie. Bisherige Studien deuten auf ein komplexes Zusammenspiel zwischen interozeptiven Prozessen und modulierenden Faktoren, wie humoralen Signalwegen und sozialen Faktoren, hin. Dieses Symposium präsentiert und diskutiert aktuelle Befunde zu pharmakologischen und neurophysiologischen Grundlagen von Interozeption, sowie Interventionen bei Populationen mit psychischen Störungen. Die Auswirkungen von akutem Stress auf die interozeptive Verarbeitung werden von Greta Hansen (Luxemburg) beschrieben. André Schulz (Luxemburg) wird Daten zu gastrisch-interozeptiven Prozessen bei Patienten mit entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen und Reizdarmsyndrom vorstellen. Aline Tiemann (Fribourg) wird Zusammenhänge von gastrischer und kardialer Interozeption mit pathologischem Essverhalten (einschließlich bei Individuen mit Bulimieund Binge-Eating-Symptomatik) vorstellen, sowie Pilotdaten über ein neu entwickeltes virtuelles gastrisches Biofeedback-Paradigma als Intervention bei beeinträchtigter gastrischer Interozeption. Mögliche Interventionen für veränderte neurobiologische Mechanismen im Zusammenhang mit Interozeption umfassen pharmakologische und neurophysiologische Interventionen. Sarah Back (München) wird vagale neurophysiologische Veränderungen im Hinblick auf die Herzfrequenzvariabilität und Herzschlag-evozierte Potenziale bei Borderline-Persönlichkeitsstörung, sowie Modulationen durch das Neuropeptid Oxytocin vorstellen. Schließlich wird Marius Schmitz (Heidelberg) ein ätiologisches Modell interozeptiver Prozesse für Psychopathologie vorstellen und zukünftige Richtungen für das weitere Forschungsfeld aufzeigen. Zusammen zeigen diese Beiträge auf, dass veränderte Interozeption auf verschiedenen Verarbeitungsebenen für spezifische Symptome bei psychischen Störungen verantwortlich sein könnte. Außerdem könnte Interozeption zu diagnostischen Prozessen und als Verlaufsindikator bei Interventionen beitragen. [less ▲]

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See detailAkuter Stress und kardiale interozeptive Genauigkeit in einer Herzschlagzählaufgabe
Hansen, Greta UL; Vögele, Claus UL; Bellingrath, Silja et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

Interozeption, d.h. die Wahrnehmung und Verarbeitung körperinnerer Signale, hängt mit der Aktivität eines Körperorgans (z.B. kardiale Aktivierung) zusammen. Die Organaktivität wird maßgeblich durch Stress ... [more ▼]

Interozeption, d.h. die Wahrnehmung und Verarbeitung körperinnerer Signale, hängt mit der Aktivität eines Körperorgans (z.B. kardiale Aktivierung) zusammen. Die Organaktivität wird maßgeblich durch Stress beeinflusst, der beispielsweise durch soziale Situationen oder Schmerz ausgelöst wird. Auch wenn erste Erkenntnisse implizieren, dass Stress die bewusste Ebene der Interozeption („interozeptive Genauigkeit“/IG) beeinflussen könnte, sind der Zeitverlauf dieses Effekts und die Rolle von Organaktivierung bislang unklar. Anhand eines Gruppenexperiments mit gesunden Versuchspersonen (je n=33 Stress- und Kontrollgruppe, w=48) wurde die Auswirkung von akutem Stress (sozial-evozierter Kaltwassertest) auf IG in einer Herzschlagzählaufgabe zu vier unterschiedlichen Zeitpunkten (pre-Stress/post-Stress-1/2/3) untersucht. Der Stressor führte zu einem Anstieg von selbstberichtetem Stress (sowie Speichelcortisol). Die Herzrate (Organaktivität) sowie die IG blieben jedoch, entgegen der Erwartungen, sowohl zwischen den Gruppen als auch über die Zeit, unverändert. Unabhängig von der Bedingung und den Zeitpunkten zeigte sich außerdem eine Tendenz, die tatsächlichen Herzschläge zu 56% zu unterschätzen. Bei konstanter Herzrate (M=81.5 bpm) über alle Versuchsbedingungen hinweg konnten die gezählten Herzschläge alleine (M=28.55) somit die IG (M=.43) vorhersagen (r=.962, p<.001). Diese Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass sowohl die zentrale Rolle der gezählten Herzschläge auf die IG, als auch jene Organaktivierung, die durch akuten Stress verändert wird und sich in einer Veränderung der gezählten Herzschläge widerspiegelt, bei Anwendung der Herzschlagzählaufgabe, berücksichtigt werden muss. [less ▲]

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See detailInteroception, stress and stress-associated diseases
Schulz, André UL

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

The brain and peripheral bodily organs continuously exchange information. Interoception refers to the processing of afferent signals from the body to the brain. Stress activates peripheral bodily organs ... [more ▼]

The brain and peripheral bodily organs continuously exchange information. Interoception refers to the processing of afferent signals from the body to the brain. Stress activates peripheral bodily organs via neural and endocrine pathways and can thus be seen as an example of efferent signal transmission between the brain and the body. The interaction of interoception and stress, therefore, implies bi-directional communication on the brain-body axis. Ten studies are presented to address the following objectives: To reveal ‘normal’ bi-directional communication on the brain-body axis (i.e. interoception and stress) in healthy individuals and mechanisms of potentially altered brain-body communication in stress-associated diseases. With regard to interoception, the studies focus on different interoceptive facets, including early stages of CNS representation of visceral-afferent signals, attention focused on visceral sensations and their interpretation. Concerning stress, both physiological stress axes, the sympatho-adreno-medullary (SAM) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, are addressed. An activation of the SAM axis does not only stimulate the cardiovascular system, but it also enhances attention focused on bodily sensations. Cortisol seems to selectively amplify the brain-body communication at cortical level, without affecting peripheral cardiovascular activation. Stress-associated disorders, such as depersonalization/derealization, somatic symptom, post-traumatic stress, major depression or borderline personality disorder, are characterized by a highly-specific patterns of alterations of interoceptive signal transmission and physiological stress axis dysregulations. In conclusion, new intervention methods should be developed that enhance the communication between the brain and the body to improve mental health. These may be based on nerve or brain stimulation, perceptual learning or neurofeedback. [less ▲]

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See detailFrom hands to heart: a trend for higher interoceptive accuracy in left-handed as compared to right-handed female participants
Bernard, Sam UL; Barnabo, Meggie; Boos, Mareike et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

There is a discrete anatomical organization of the neural substrates of mental processes. Right hemispheric dominance was repeatedly shown for interoception, the perception and processing of signals from ... [more ▼]

There is a discrete anatomical organization of the neural substrates of mental processes. Right hemispheric dominance was repeatedly shown for interoception, the perception and processing of signals from inside the body. This right hemispheric dominance is supported, for example, by stronger heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEPs) over the right hemisphere, which represent neurophysiological indicators of cardiac interoception. These findings, however, are based on individuals with left hemispheric dominance, which manifests among other traits, predominantly in right-handedness. Left-handed individuals (presumably showing a right-hemispheric dominance) may show a facilitation of processes with a right-hemispheric relevance, such as interoception, which remains yet unclear. N = 42 healthy participants (21 left- and right-handed each) performed the heartbeat counting task (HCT) to assess cardiac interoceptive accuracy (“IAc”, i.e. the correspondence between actual and perceived bodily signals), as well as a time estimation task, as previous studies suggested that IAc in the HCT may be confounded by time estimation accuracy (TEAc). We found a trend-level difference among female participants, with left-handers presenting higher IAc scores than right-handers. There were no differences in TEAc or heart rate between groups. These preliminary findings suggest a potential facilitating effect of right hemispheric dominance on interoception, which seems to be specific for additional hemispheric specialization effects related to female sex. Future studies are warranted to replicate this trend and to reveal neurophysiological mechanisms of this effect (e.g., by investigating HEPs). [less ▲]

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See detailA Theory-Informed, Personalized mHealth Intervention for Adolescents (Mobile App for Physical Activity): Development and Pilot Study
Domin, Alex; Uslu, Sinan UL; Schulz, André UL et al

in JMIR Formative Research (2022), 6(6), 35118

Background: Evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) during childhood and adolescence is crucial as it usually results in adequate PA levels in adulthood. Given the ubiquitous use of smartphones by ... [more ▼]

Background: Evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) during childhood and adolescence is crucial as it usually results in adequate PA levels in adulthood. Given the ubiquitous use of smartphones by adolescents, these devices may offer feasible means to reach young populations and deliver interventions aiming to increase PA participation and decrease sedentary time. To date, very few studies have reported smartphone-based interventions promoting PA for adolescents. In addition, most available fitness apps do not include the latest evidence-based content. Objective: This paper described the systematic development of a behavior change, theory-informed Mobile App for Physical Activity intervention with personalized prompts for adolescents aged 16 to 18 years. The within-subject trial results provided the first evidence of the general effectiveness of the intervention based on the outcomes step count, sedentary time, and moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) minutes. The effectiveness of the intervention component personalized PA prompt was also assessed. Methods: A 4-week within-subject trial with 18 healthy adolescents aged 16 to 18 years was conducted (mean age 16.33, SD 0.57 years). After the baseline week, the participants used the Mobile App for Physical Activity intervention (Fitbit fitness tracker+app), which included a daily personalized PA prompt delivered via a pop-up notification. A paired 1-tailed t test was performed to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Change-point analysis was performed to assess the effectiveness of a personalized PA prompt 30 and 60 minutes after prompt delivery. Results: The results showed that the intervention significantly reduced sedentary time in adolescents during the first week of the trial (t17=−1.79; P=.04; bootstrapped P=.02). This trend, although remaining positive, diminished over time. Our findings indicate that the intervention had no effect on metabolic equivalent of task–based MVPA minutes, although the descriptive increase may give reason for further investigation. Although the results suggested no overall change in heart rate–based MVPA minutes, the results from the change-point analyses suggest that the personalized PA prompts significantly increased heart rate per minute during the second week of the study (t16=1.84; P=.04; bootstrapped P=.04). There were no significant increases in participants’ overall step count; however, the personalized PA prompts resulted in a marginally significant increase in step counts per minute in the second week of the study (t17=1.35; P=.09; bootstrapped P=.05). Conclusions: The results of the trial provide preliminary evidence of the benefit of the Mobile App for Physical Activity intervention for modest yet significant reductions in participants’ sedentary time and the beneficial role of personalized PAprompts. These results also provide further evidence of the benefits and relative efficacy of personalized activity suggestions for inclusion in smartphone-based PA interventions. This study provides an example of how to guide the development of smartphone-based mobile health PA interventions for adolescents. [less ▲]

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See detailAddressing the need for new interoceptive methods
Garfinkel, Sarah N.; Schulz, André UL; Tsakiris, Manos

in Biological Psychology (2022), 170(1), 108322

Internal bodily signals are dynamically coupled to brain dynamics; interoception, the ‘sensing’ of internal signals, can influence cognition, emotion and perception. An appreciation of the wide-ranging ... [more ▼]

Internal bodily signals are dynamically coupled to brain dynamics; interoception, the ‘sensing’ of internal signals, can influence cognition, emotion and perception. An appreciation of the wide-ranging implications of interoceptive processing has surpassed the range and breadth of available interoceptive methods. New techniques are required to support the scientific study of interoception and this special issue brings together a diverse array of novel interoceptive methods and assessments, spanning psychophysiology, experimental psychology, affective neuroscience and computational approaches, divided into 5 core sections. Section 1 presents novel theoretical and computational models of interoception, while section two brings together a range of perspectives on questionnaire measures of interoception. Section 3 is devoted to the development of novel methods to assess interoception in behavioral tasks and section 4 focuses on the validity and confounds present in a range of methods used to assess interoception. Finally, section 5 details new methodological insights of interoception in the domains of emotion, cognition and health. Improved interoceptive methods are needed to progress this field; greater precision in techniques and core interoceptive constructs will aid in the mapping of interoceptive measures to cognition and emotion factors, as well as help to elucidate precise interoceptive alterations observed in clinical conditions. [less ▲]

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See detailLess efficient cognitive pain modulation in healthy older adults – the impact of executive functions, chronic stress, and physical activity
Heiler, Ann-Sophie; van der Meulen, Marian UL; Miltner, Wolfgang et al

in Heinrichs, Markus; Schönauer, Monika (Eds.) 47. Jahrestagung Psychologie und Gehirn (2022)

Demographic change and the associated increasing prevalence of chronic pain have contributed to increased research interest in the field of aging. Aging has been associated with less efficient pain ... [more ▼]

Demographic change and the associated increasing prevalence of chronic pain have contributed to increased research interest in the field of aging. Aging has been associated with less efficient pain inhibition through cognitive distraction. As pain modulation and executive functioning mainly involve the prefrontal cortical network, which shows age-related atrophy, we hypothesized an association between deteriorating cognitive modulation of pain in healthy older adults and reduced executive functions. As chronic stress can decrease executive functioning through prefrontal cortical impairment, we expected a negative impact on distraction from pain. In contrast, physical activity can have a stress-buffering effect and positively influences executive functions in older age. Therefore, increased physical activity should lead to better distraction from pain. Healthy young (18 -30 years) and older adults (65+ years) took part in a pain distraction paradigm (N-back) while receiving non-painful and moderately painful electric stimuli. Before, we examined executive functions, including response inhibition (Go/No-Go-task), inhibitory control (Stroop task), and working memory (Sternberg task). Additionally, chronic stress and physical activity were assessed using self-report questionnaires, supported by physiological measurements (heart rate variability). Preliminary results indicate a negative impact of chronic stress on distraction from pain particular in young participants, while physical fitness was related to more successful pain modulation in older adults. Our final results will contribute to a more differentiated view on executive functioning and pain modulation in aging, thereby leading to a better understanding of the impact of aging on non-pharmacological pain treatment and to better adapted pain therapies in this population. [less ▲]

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See detailGastric interoception and gastric myoelectrical activity in bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder
van Dyck, Zoé UL; Schulz, André UL; Blechert, Jens et al

in International Journal of Eating Disorders (2021), 54(7), 1106-1115

Objective: Identifying factors that control food intake is crucial to the understanding and treatment of eating disorders characterized by binge eating. In healthy individuals, stomach distension plays an ... [more ▼]

Objective: Identifying factors that control food intake is crucial to the understanding and treatment of eating disorders characterized by binge eating. In healthy individuals, stomach distension plays an important role in the development of satiation, but gastric sensations might be overridden in binge eating. The present study investigated the perception of gastric signals (i.e., gastric interoception) and gastric motility in patients experiencing binge eating episodes, i.e. bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder (BED). Method: Twenty-nine patients with BN or BED (ED group) and 32 age-, sex-, and BMI-matched healthy controls (HC group) participated in the study. The onset of satiation and stomach fullness were assessed using a novel 2-step water load test (WLT-II). Gastric myoelectrical activity (GMA) was measured by electrogastrography (EGG) before and after ingestion of non-caloric water. Results: Individuals in the ED group drank significantly more water until reporting satiation during the WLT-II. The percentage of normal gastric myoelectrical power was significantly smaller in the ED group compared to HC, and negatively related to the number of objective binge-eating episodes per week in bulimic patients. Power in the bradygastria range was greater in ED than in HC subjects. Discussion: Patients with EDs have a delayed response to satiation compared to HC participants, together with abnormal GMA. Repeated binge eating episodes may induce disturbances to gastric motor function. [less ▲]

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See detailOn the construct validity of interoceptive accuracy based on heartbeat counting: cardiovascular determinants of absolute and tilt-induced change scores
Schulz, André UL; Back, Sarah N.; Schaan, Violetta K. et al

in Biological Psychology (2021), 164(1), 108168

Interoceptive accuracy (IAcc) as assessed with the heartbeat counting task (IAccHBCT) may be affected by a range of factors including (1.) the ability to adequately detect cardiac signals, indicated by ... [more ▼]

Interoceptive accuracy (IAcc) as assessed with the heartbeat counting task (IAccHBCT) may be affected by a range of factors including (1.) the ability to adequately detect cardiac signals, indicated by IAcc in a heartbeat discrimination task (IAccHBDT), (2.) cardiac signal properties, affected by sympathetic and parasympathetic tone, and (3.) non-interoceptive processes, including time estimation accuracy (TEAcc). In the current study we investigated the contribution of these factors to absolute and Δ IAccHBCT scores, induced by passive head-up and head-down tilt in 49 healthy individuals. A set of hierarchical regression models showed IAccHBDT scores as the strongest and, across different orthostatic (tilt) conditions, most stable (positive) predictor of absolute and Δ IAccHBCT scores. Neither indicators of cardiac signal properties (except for HR in head-down-tilt), nor TEAcc predicted absolute or Δ IAccHBCT scores. These findings support the convergent and discriminant validity of absolute and Δ IAccHBCT scores. [less ▲]

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See detailOlder adults show a higher heartbeat-evoked potential than young adults and a negative association with everyday metacognition
Kamp, Siri-Maria; Schulz, André UL; Forester, Glen et al

in Brain Research (2021), 1752(1), 147238

The ability to monitor internal bodily and cognitive processes is essential for everyday functioning and independence in older adults, because it allows for adjustments when lapses in performance are ... [more ▼]

The ability to monitor internal bodily and cognitive processes is essential for everyday functioning and independence in older adults, because it allows for adjustments when lapses in performance are imminent. In the present study, age-related morphological changes to the heartbeat evoked potential (HEP), an electrophysiological cortical representation of cardiac signals, and its association with self-reported everyday cognition were examined. A community sample of older adults showed an increased HEP amplitude, which could reflect a stronger representation of early stages of cardiac interoception, and a more anterior scalp distribution of the HEP, suggesting a more widespread configuration of the underlying neural generators, compared to a group of young adults. Furthermore, in older adults, HEP amplitude was negatively correlated with self-estimated everyday cognitive functioning. Older adults with pronounced cortical representations of peripheral signals may thus be more likely to take note of lapses in their own bodily and cognitive function, leading to lower estimates of their cognitive abilities. These results provide novel insights into age-related changes in interoceptive processing and their association with metacognitive judgments, with potentially far-reaching implications for cognitive aging and age-related cognitive decline. [less ▲]

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See detailInteroception in preschoolers: New insights into its assessment and relations to emotion regulation and stress
Opdensteinen, Kim D.; Schaan, Luca; Pohl, Anna et al

in Biological Psychology (2021), 165(1), 108166

Interoception may play an important role for emotion regulation and stress, thereby affecting mental health in children and adults. Yet, little is known on interoception in preschool children. Therefore ... [more ▼]

Interoception may play an important role for emotion regulation and stress, thereby affecting mental health in children and adults. Yet, little is known on interoception in preschool children. Therefore, we investigated interoceptive accuracy using the adapted Jumping Jack Paradigm (JJP) and its relationship with emotion regulation and stress. In Study I, 40 preschoolers completed the JJP and an emotion regulation task, demonstrating a positive relationship between interoceptive accuracy and emotion regulation at trend level (R² = 0.231, p = .023; β = .278, p = .073). In Study II, 31 preschoolers completed the adapted JJP before and after an acute laboratory stress test. Higher total cortisol output following acute stress induction were associated with reduced interoceptive accuracy (r = -0.670, p = .017). Extending earlier findings in adults and school-children, the relationship of interoceptive accuracy with emotion regulation and stress highlights the importance to investigate interoception in early childhood. [less ▲]

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See detailNoradrenergic activation induced by yohimbine decreases interoceptive accuracy in healthy individuals with childhood adversity
Schulz, André UL; Deuter, Christian E.; Breden, Ion-Hideo et al

in Development and Psychopathology (2021)

Acute stress affects interoception, but it remains unclear if this is due to activation of the sympatho-adreno-medullary (SAM) or hypothalamicpituitary-adrenocortical axis. This study aimed to investigate ... [more ▼]

Acute stress affects interoception, but it remains unclear if this is due to activation of the sympatho-adreno-medullary (SAM) or hypothalamicpituitary-adrenocortical axis. This study aimed to investigate the effect of SAM axis activation on interoceptive accuracy (IAcc). Central alpha2-adrenergic receptors represent a negative feedback mechanism of the SAM axis. Major depressive disorder and adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are associated with alterations in the biological stress systems, including central alpha2-adrenergic receptors. Here, healthy individuals with and without ACE as well as depressive patients with and without ACE (n=114; all without antidepressant medication) were tested after yohimbine (alpha2-adrenergic antagonist) and placebo. We assessed IAcc and sensibility in a heartbeat counting task. Increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after yohimbine confirmed successful SAM axis activation. IAcc decreased after yohimbine only in the healthy group with ACE, but remained unchanged in all other groups (‘group’ × ‘drug’ interaction). This effect may be due to selective up-regulation of alpha2-adrenergic receptors after childhood trauma, which reduces capacity for attention focus on heartbeats. The sympathetic neural pathway including alpha2-adrenergic circuitries may be essential for mediating interoceptive signal transmission. Suppressed processing of physical sensations in stressful situations may represent an adaptive response in healthy individuals who experienced ACE. [less ▲]

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See detailInteroceptive Approaches to Embodiment Research
Schulz, André UL; Vögele, Claus UL

in Robinson, Michael D.; Thomas, Laura E. (Eds.) Handbook of Embodied Psychology: Thinking, Feeling, and Acting. (2021)

Interoception refers to the processing and perception of signals arising from inside the body. Currently, there are two alternative conceptualizations of interoception: (1) an ‘inclusive’ view considering ... [more ▼]

Interoception refers to the processing and perception of signals arising from inside the body. Currently, there are two alternative conceptualizations of interoception: (1) an ‘inclusive’ view considering all bodily signals from inside the body as relevant for interoception, and (2) an ‘exclusive’ view, which is based on receptor types and neurophysiology, and, therefore, a focus on visceroception. These conceptualizations have different implications for the underlying neurophysiology and, therefore, the mechanisms behind embodiment. Thereafter, we discuss current models of interoception and provide definitions of the most common interoceptive terms, which include interoceptive accuracy, sensibility, sensitivity, awareness, and prediction error. We then present examples of interoceptive paradigms to assess different elements of interoception models. Typical interoceptive indicators include self-reports, behavioral measures, and neurophysiological indices. Finally, we discuss the link between interoceptive indicators and emotional experience and emotion regulation, consciousness, and decision-making. These findings illustrate the relevance of interoceptive indicators for embodiment. [less ▲]

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See detailHeartbeat evoked potentials in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder: an unaltered neurobiological regulation system?
Schmitz, Marius; Müller, Laura E.; Seitz, Katja I. et al

in European Journal of Psychotraumatology (2021), 12(1), 1987686

Background: Early life maltreatment is a risk factor for psychiatric disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Posttraumatic stress disorder is a severe and heterogeneous disorder with ... [more ▼]

Background: Early life maltreatment is a risk factor for psychiatric disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Posttraumatic stress disorder is a severe and heterogeneous disorder with fluctuating states of emotional over- and undermodulation including hypervigilance, dissociation, and emotion regulation deficits. The perception and regulation of emotions have been linked to interoception, the cortical representation and sensing of inner bodily processes. Although first therapeutic approaches targeting bodily sensations have been found effective in patients with PTSD, and deficits in interoceptive signal representation have been reported in other trauma-related disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), the role of interoception remains largely unexplored for PTSD. Objective: The objective was to investigate the cortical representation of cardiac interoceptive signals in patients with PTSD and its associations with early life maltreatment, trait dissociation, and emotion dysregulation. Methods: Twenty-four medication-free patients with PTSD and 31 healthy controls (HC) completed a 5-min resting electrocardiogram (ECG) with parallel electroencephalogram (EEG). Heartbeat evoked potential (HEP) amplitudes as a measure for cortical representation of cardiac interoceptive signals were compared between groups and correlated with self-report questionnaires. Results: We did not find significantly different mean HEP amplitudes in patients with PTSD compared to HC, although HEPs of patients with PTSD were descriptively higher. No significant associations between mean HEP amplitudes and early life maltreatment, trait dissociation or emotion dysregulation were obtained within the groups. Conclusion: The current finding does not indicate deficits in interoceptive signal representation at rest in individuals with PTSD. Whether patients with PTSD show altered HEP modulations during emotion regulation tasks and might benefit from therapeutic approaches aiming at changing the perception of bodily signals, needs to be investigated in future studies. [less ▲]

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See detailDisorganized attachment in adolescence: Emotional and physiological dysregulation during the Friends and Family Interview and a conflict interaction
Decarli, Alessandro; Pierrehumbert, Blaise; Schulz, André UL et al

in Development and Psychopathology (2020), 34(1), 431-445

The current study examined the effects of attachment on autonomy, relatedness and emotion regulation during an attachment interview (Friends and Family Interview; FFI) and a parent-child conflict ... [more ▼]

The current study examined the effects of attachment on autonomy, relatedness and emotion regulation during an attachment interview (Friends and Family Interview; FFI) and a parent-child conflict interaction (Family Interaction Task; FIT) in 49 adolescents (11 to 17 years old). Disorganized adolescents showed a steeper decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) than organized ones, during both the FFI and the FITs. Dismissing adolescents showed a more pronounced decrease in HRV during the FFI than secure and preoccupied individuals; no differences were found between these groups in HRV during the FITs. The results suggest that disorganized adolescents had more difficulties in regulating their emotions during both the FFI and the FITs, whereas dismissing individuals seemed effectively challenged only during the interview. [less ▲]

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