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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 (in press)

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 detailInteroception, stress and physical symptoms in stress-associated diseases
Schulz, André UL; Schultchen, Dana; Vögele, Claus UL

in European Journal of Health Psychology (in press)

The brain and peripheral bodily organs continuously exchange information. Exemplary, interoception refers to the processing and perception of ascending information from the body to the brain. Stress ... [more ▼]

The brain and peripheral bodily organs continuously exchange information. Exemplary, interoception refers to the processing and perception of ascending information from the body to the brain. Stress responses involve a neurobehavioral cascade, which includes the activation of peripheral organs via neural and endocrine pathways and can thus be seen as an example for descending information on the brain-body axis. Hence, the interaction of interoception and stress represents bi-directional communication on the brain-body axis. The main hypothesis underlying this review is that the dysregulation of brain-body communication represents an important mechanism for the generation of physical symptoms in stress-related disorders. The aims of this review are, therefore, (1.) to summarize current knowledge on acute stress effects on different stages of interoceptive signal processing, (2.) to discuss possible patterns of abnormal brainbody communication (i.e., alterations in interoception and physiological stress axes activation) in mental disorders and chronic physical conditions, and (3.) to consider possible approaches to modify interoception. Due to the regulatory feedback loops underlying brain-body communication, the modification of interoceptive processes (ascending signals) may, in turn, affect physiological stress axes activity (descending signals), and, ultimately, also physical symptoms. [less ▲]

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See detailCognitive processes underlying impaired decision-making in gambling disorder.
Brevers, Damien UL; Vögele, Claus UL; Billieux, Joël

in Zaleskiewicz, Thomas (Ed.) Psychological Perspectives on Financial Decision Making. (in press)

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See detailMood-induced changes in the cortical processing of food images in bulimia nervosa
Lutz, Annika UL; Dierolf, Angelika; van Dyck, Zoé UL et al

in Addictive Behaviors (2021), 113

Background Negative mood often triggers binge eating in bulimia nervosa (BN). We investigated motivational salience as a possible underlying mechanism using event-related potentials (ERPs) as indicators ... [more ▼]

Background Negative mood often triggers binge eating in bulimia nervosa (BN). We investigated motivational salience as a possible underlying mechanism using event-related potentials (ERPs) as indicators of motivated attention allocation (P300) and sustained processing (LPP). Methods We collected ERPs (P300: 350–400 ms; LPP: 600–1000 ms) from 21 women with full-syndrome or partially remitted BN and 21 healthy women (HC), matched for age and body mass index. Idiosyncratic negative and neutral situations were used to induce corresponding mood states (counterbalanced), before participants viewed images of high- and low-calorie foods and neutral objects, and provided ratings for pleasantness and desire to eat. Results P300 was larger for foods than objects; LPP was largest for high-calorie foods, followed by low-calorie foods, then objects. The BN group showed an increased desire to eat high-calorie foods under negative mood and stronger mood induction effects on ERPs than the HC group, with generally reduced P300 and a small increase in LPP for high-calorie foods. Effects were limited to circumscribed electrode positions. Exploratory analyses showed clearer effects when comparing high vs. low emotional eaters. Conclusion We argue that negative mood decreased the availability of cognitive resources (decreased P300) in BN, thereby facilitating disinhibition and food cravings (increased desire-to-eat ratings). Increased sustained processing might be linked to emotional eating tendencies rather than BN pathology per se, and reflect approach motivation, conflict, or regulatory processes. Negative mood appears to induce complex changes in food image processing, whose understanding may contribute to the development of tailored interventions in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailBrain mechanisms underlying prospective thinking of sustainable behaviours
Brevers, Damien UL; Baeken, Chris; Maurage, Pierre et al

in Nature Sustainability (2021)

The preservation of our environment requires sustainable ways of thinking and living. Here, we aimed to explore the core network of brain regions involved in the prospective thinking about (un)sustainable ... [more ▼]

The preservation of our environment requires sustainable ways of thinking and living. Here, we aimed to explore the core network of brain regions involved in the prospective thinking about (un)sustainable behaviours. Using a neuroimaging cue-exposure paradigm, we requested participants (n = 86) to report behaviours that were the most feasible for them to implement (sustainable behaviour) or diminish (unsustainable behaviour) in the future. We find that increasing sustainable behaviours was perceived to be more feasible than reducing unsustainable ones. Consistent with the role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in providing access to new representations of past behaviours, we observed stronger activation of these regions when picturing an increase in sustainable behaviours. Critically, simulating the reduction of unsustainable behaviours triggered activation within the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (a key region for inhibitory-control processes), which was negatively associated with hippocampal activation (a key region for memory). These findings suggest that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex downregulates brain regions that support memory retrieval of unsustainable behaviours. This mechanism could inhibit the access to episodic details associated with unsustainable behaviours and in turn allow for prospective thinking of sustainable behaviours. These findings provide an initial step towards a better understanding of the brain networks that are involved in the adoption of sustainable habits. [less ▲]

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See detailAltered regulation of negative affect in patients with fibromyalgia : a diary study
Rost, Silke; Crombez, Geert; Stefan Sütterlin, Stefan et al

in EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PAIN (2021)

Background Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and often accompanied by cognitive and emotional problems. Adaptation to fibromyalgia may therefore also rely on one's ability ... [more ▼]

Background Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and often accompanied by cognitive and emotional problems. Adaptation to fibromyalgia may therefore also rely on one's ability to regulate emotional problems. In this study, we examined two indices of emotion regulation, that is, (a) affective instability, involving frequent large fluctuations in self-reported affect, and (b) resting heart rate variability (HRV). 45.4 years; 39 females) and 46 matched healthy controls (M-age = 44.9 years; 37 females). Heart rate was monitored under resting conditions to derive HRV. Subsequently, participants completed an electronic end-of-day diary for 14 consecutive days assessing daily levels of pain, disability, negative affect (NA) and positive affect (PA). Affective instability was operationalized as the mean square of successive differences in daily mood. Results Results indicate increased levels of NA instability and reduced levels of HRV in patients with fibromyalgia in comparison with healthy controls. Furthermore, HRV and NA instability were inversely related. Finally, in patients, higher NA instability was related to increased pain disability. Conclusions Current findings support the idea that patients with fibromyalgia are confronted with fluctuating emotions. These results may have important implications for treatment as they provide support for the use of emotion regulation skills training in patients with fibromyalgia to impact upon NA instability. Significance This study provides novel insight in the link between emotion regulation indices,that is, heart-rate variability and negative affective (NA) instability, in patients with fibromyalgia, and presents evidence for differences in both emotion regulation indices between patients with fibromyalgia and healthy people. Furthermore, results link increased NA instability with increased levels of daily disability in patients with fibromyalgia. Together, these findings offer support for a key role of emotion regulation in fibromyalgia outcomes, providing pathways for clinical practice. [less ▲]

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See detailQuality of life among adult patients living with diabetes in Rwanda: a cross-sectional study in outpatient clinics
Lygidakis, Charilaos; Uwizihiwe, Jean Paul; Bia, Michela Gianna UL et al

in BMJ Open (2021), 11

Objectives To report on the disease-related quality of life of patients living with diabetes mellitus in Rwanda and identify its predictors. Design Cross-sectional study, part of the baseline assessment ... [more ▼]

Objectives To report on the disease-related quality of life of patients living with diabetes mellitus in Rwanda and identify its predictors. Design Cross-sectional study, part of the baseline assessment of a cluster-randomised controlled trial. Setting Outpatient clinics for non-communicable diseases of nine hospitals across Rwanda. Participants Between January and August 2019, 206 patients were recruited as part of the clinical trial. Eligible participants were those aged 21–80 years and with a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus for at least 6 months. Illiterate patients, those with severe hearing or visual impairments, those with severe mental health conditions, terminally ill, and those pregnant or in the postpartum period were excluded Primary and secondary outcome measures Disease-specific quality of life was measured with the Kinyarwanda version of the Diabetes-39 (D-39) questionnaire. A glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test was performed on all patients. Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected, including medical history, disease-related complications and comorbidities. Results The worst affected dimensions of the D-39 were ‘anxiety and worry’ (mean=51.63, SD=25.51), ‘sexual functioning’ (mean=44.58, SD=37.02), and ‘energy and mobility’ (mean=42.71, SD=20.69). Duration of the disease and HbA1c values were not correlated with any of the D-39 dimensions. A moderating effect was identified between use of insulin and achieving a target HbA1c of 7% in the ‘diabetes control’ scale. The most frequent comorbidity was hypertension (49.0% of participants), which had a greater negative effect on the ‘diabetes control’ and ‘social burden’ scales in women. Higher education was a predictor of less impact on the ‘social burden’ and ‘energy and mobility’ scales. Conclusions Several variables were identified as predictors for the five dimensions of quality of life that were studied, providing opportunities for tailored preventive programmes. Further prospective studies are needed to determine causal relationships. [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)

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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See detailFamily violence and COVID19
Gomez Bravo, Raquel UL; Mariani Borrero, Yusianmar; Dascal-Weichhendler, Hagit et al

in Self and Society in the Corona Crisis (2020)

According to WHO, violence against women tend to increase during any type of emergency, such as the COVID19 outbreak, impacting not just women but also children and their families health . Although data ... [more ▼]

According to WHO, violence against women tend to increase during any type of emergency, such as the COVID19 outbreak, impacting not just women but also children and their families health . Although data on family violence during crisis is scarce, existing reports from China, UK and USA already suggest an increase of intimate partner violence. As social distancing measures are taken and people forced or encourage to stay at home, we could expect that the increase of tension at many homes will unfortunately end up in new cases of family violence or exacerbations of existing ones. Such context of an overloaded health system facing the crisis may imply in extra challenges for victims to seek help. This article aims to summarize the existing evidence regarding family violence during crisis and the resources available that can help to mitigate the impact of violence. [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 (2020)

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 detailNon-problematic and problematic binge-watchers do not differ on prepotent response inhibition: A preregistered pilot experimental study
Flayelle, Maèva; Verbruggen, Frederick; Schiel, Julie et al

in Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies (2020), 2

Binge‐watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of a TV series back‐to‐back) has become standard viewing practice. Yet, this phenomenon has recently generated concerns regarding its potential negative ... [more ▼]

Binge‐watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of a TV series back‐to‐back) has become standard viewing practice. Yet, this phenomenon has recently generated concerns regarding its potential negative outcomes on the long run. The presumed addictive nature of this behavior has also received increasing scientific interest, with preliminary findings reporting associations between binge‐watching, self‐control impairments, and heightened impulsivity. Nevertheless, previous studies only relied on self‐report data. The current preregistered study therefore investigated whether non‐problematic and problematic binge‐watchers differ not only in self‐report but also in experimental measures of behavioral impulsivity. Based on their viewing characteristics, 60 TV series viewers were allocated to one of three predetermined groups: non‐binge‐watchers, trouble‐free binge‐watchers (absence of negative impact) and problematic binge‐watchers (presence of negative impact). Participants performed tasks assessing response inhibition (Stop‐Signal Task) and impulsive reward seeking (Delay Discounting Task), and completed self‐reported questionnaires on sociodemographics, affect, symptoms of problematic binge‐watching, and impulsive personality traits. According to the preregistered analytic plan, one‐way analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) were computed to compare the predetermined groups. With gender being controlled for, no differences were identified in self‐report impulsivity and response inhibition abilities. Trouble‐free binge‐watchers reported higher rates of delay discounting than non‐binge‐watchers. Although preliminary, our results challenge the notion that problematic binge‐watching is characterized by the same neuropsychological impairments as in addictive disorders as, contrary to our preregistered hypotheses, no differences emerged between non‐problematic and problematic binge‐watchers regarding self‐control variables considered as hallmarks of the latter. These results suggest the need for formulating and testing alternative conceptualizations of problematic binge‐watching. [less ▲]

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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 detailGlucocorticoid receptor signaling in leukocytes after early life adversity.
Elwenspoek, M.; Hengesch, X.; Leenen, F. et al

in Development and Psychopathology (2020), 32(3), 853-863

Early life adversity (ELA) has been associated with inflammation and immunosenescence, as well as hyporeactivity of the HPA-axis. As the immune system and HPA-axis are tightly intertwined around the ... [more ▼]

Early life adversity (ELA) has been associated with inflammation and immunosenescence, as well as hyporeactivity of the HPA-axis. As the immune system and HPA-axis are tightly intertwined around the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) we examined peripheral GR functionality in the EpiPath cohort, where participants had either been exposed to ELA (separation from parents and/or institutionalization followed by adoption) (n=40) or had been reared by their biological parents (n=72). Expression of the strict GR target genes FKBP5 and GILZ as well as total and 1F and 1H GR transcripts were similar between groups. Furthermore, there were no differences in GR sensitivity, examined by the effects of dexamethasone on IL6 production in LPS-stimulated whole blood. Although we did not find differences in methylation at the GR 1F exon or promoter region, we identified a region of the GR 1H promoter (CpG 1-9) that showed lower methylation levels in ELA. Peripheral GR signaling was unperturbed in our cohort and the observed immune phenotype does not appear to be secondary to an altered glucocorticoid receptor response to glucocorticoids. To identify signaling pathways that may underlie the ELA immune phenotype, future research should focus on unbiased approaches, such as investigating whole genome methylation profiles. [less ▲]

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See detailModulation of startle and heart rate responses by fear of physical activity in patients with heart failure and in healthy adults
Hoffmann, Jeremia Mark; Finke, Johannes B.; Schächinger, Hartmut et al

in Physiology and Behavior (2020), 225(1), 113044

Fear of physical activity (FoPA) is prevalent in patients with heart failure and associated with lower physical activity despite medical exercise prescriptions. The present study examined physiological ... [more ▼]

Fear of physical activity (FoPA) is prevalent in patients with heart failure and associated with lower physical activity despite medical exercise prescriptions. The present study examined physiological indicators of FoPA by assessing startle modulation and heart rate responses after affective priming with lexical stimuli of positive, neutral, and negative valence, as well as words related to physical activity as potentially phobic cues. After screening for FoPA in patients with heart failure and healthy adults, twenty participants each were assigned to one of three subsamples: a healthy control group and two cardiac patient groups scoring either low or high on FoPA. The high-FoPA group showed more pronounced startle potentiation and heart rate acceleration (i.e., mobilization of defensive behavior) in the phobic prime condition compared to controls. Differences in FoPA accounted for 30% of the startle potentiation by phobic priming, whereas general anxiety, depression, and disease severity were no significant predictors in patients with heart failure. These findings suggest that heart failure-associated FoPA elicits avoidance behavior at a largely automatic level, and might thereby contribute to low adherence to exercise regimen. Thus, FoPA should be addressed in the design of psychological interventions for cardiac patients to foster physical activity. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Measurement of Resilience
Asheim, Geir; Bossert, Walter; d'ambrosio, Conchita UL et al

in Journal of Economic Theory (2020), 189

Resilience has become an important topic in many social sciences. Numerous individual choices and economic and demographic outcomes are likely to be influenced by people’s resilience. School performance ... [more ▼]

Resilience has become an important topic in many social sciences. Numerous individual choices and economic and demographic outcomes are likely to be influenced by people’s resilience. School performance, work absenteeism and burnout, longevity, the quality of sleep and health-risk behaviors such as substance abuse are some examples. Similarly, it is of high policy relevance to understand the determinants of both individual resilience (such as educational, marital and occupational status) and ecological resilience (such as climate change). Empirical work designed to uncover such relationships suffers from the absence of a resilience measure applicable in the context of large data sets. We fill this gap by proposing a specific measure that is characterized by a set of natural properties. After an introduction to the notion of resilience and its attributes, we argue why these conditions have intuitive appeal. Finally, we provide illustrating examples and derive our main characterization result. [less ▲]

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See detailFight, Flight, – Or Grab a Bite! Trait Emotional and Restrained Eating Style Predicts Food Cue Responding Under Negative Emotions
Schnepper, Rebekka; Georgii, Claudio; Elchin, Katharina et al

in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience (2020), 14

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See detailTowards a cross-cultural assessment of binge-watching: Psychometric evaluation of the “watching TV series motives” and “binge-watching engagement and symptoms” questionnaires across nine languages
Flayelle, Maèva; Castro-Calvo, Jesús; Vögele, Claus UL et al

in Computers in Human Behavior (2020), 111

In view of the growing interest regarding binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of television (TV) series in a single sitting) research, two measures were developed and validated to assess ... [more ▼]

In view of the growing interest regarding binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of television (TV) series in a single sitting) research, two measures were developed and validated to assess binge-watching involvement (“Binge-Watching Engagement and Symptoms Questionnaire”, BWESQ) and related motivations (“Watching TV Series Motives Questionnaire”, WTSMQ). To promote international and cross-cultural binge-watching research, the present article reports on the validation of these questionnaires in nine languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Hungarian, Persian, Arabic, Chinese). Both questionnaires were disseminated, together with additional self-report measures of happiness, psychopathological symptoms, impulsivity and problematic internet use among TV series viewers from a college/university student population (N = 12,616) in 17 countries. Confirmatory factor, measurement invariance and correlational analyses were conducted to establish structural and construct validity. The two questionnaires had good psychometric properties and fit in each language. Equivalence across languages and gender was supported, while construct validity was evidenced by similar patterns of associations with complementary measures of happiness, psychopathological symptoms, impulsivity and problematic internet use. The results support the psychometric validity and utility of the WTSMQ and BWESQ for conducting cross-cultural research on binge-watching. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh blood pressure responders show largest increase in heartbeat perception accuracy after post-learning stress following a cardiac interoceptive learning task
Schenk, Lara; Fischbach, Jean T. M.; Müller, Ruta UL et al

in Biological Psychology (2020), 154(1), 107919

Mental disorders with physical symptoms, e.g. somatic symptom disorder, are characterized by altered interoceptive accuracy (IAc), which can be explained by individual differences in interoceptive ... [more ▼]

Mental disorders with physical symptoms, e.g. somatic symptom disorder, are characterized by altered interoceptive accuracy (IAc), which can be explained by individual differences in interoceptive learning (IL). We investigated if stress facilitates IL. Seventy-three healthy participants performed a heartbeat counting task (HCT: T1) and a heartbeat perception training (HBPT). After exposure to a socially-evaluated cold pressor stress test (SECPT; n=48) or a control condition (n=25), two more HCTs were performed (T2: 30 minutes after SECPT; T3: 24 h later). After the HBPT, all participants showed an increase in IAc. We separated the stress group into high vs. low systolic blood pressures (SBP) responders (n=24 each), with high SBP responders showing the largest IAc increases. Only SBP, but not cortisol responsiveness significantly predicted IAc increase from T1 to T2. Our results indicate that post-learning autonomic stress response facilitates IL, whereas the HPA axis response may be less important for this effect. [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 detailCardiac cycle phases affect auditory-evoked potentials, startle eye blink and pre-motor reaction times in response to acoustic startle stimuli
Schulz, André UL; Vögele, Claus UL; Bertsch, Katja et al

in International Journal of Psychophysiology (2020), 157(1), 70-81

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may ... [more ▼]

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may be associated with visceral-afferent neural traffic, as it is reduced in individuals with degeneration of afferent autonomic nerves. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the CMS effect is due a modulation of only early, automatic stages of stimulus processing by baro-afferent neural traffic, or if late stages are also affected. We, therefore, investigated early and late components of auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) to acoustic startle stimuli (105, 100, 95 dB), which were presented during the early (R-wave +230 ms) or the late cardiac cycle phase (R +530 ms) in two studies. In Study 1, participants were requested to ignore (n=25) or to respond to the stimuli with button-presses (n=24). In Study 2 (n=23), participants were asked to rate the intensity of the stimuli. We found lower EMG startle response magnitudes (both studies) and slower pre-motor reaction times in the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase (Study 1). We also observed lower N1 negativity (both studies), but higher P2 (Study 1) and P3 positivity (both studies) in response to stimuli presented in the early cardiac cycle phase. This AEP modulation pattern appears to be specific to the CMS effect, suggesting that early stages of startle stimulus processing are attenuated, whereas late stages are enhanced by baro-afferent neural traffic [less ▲]

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