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Interactions between cardiac activity and conscious somatosensory perception

MPS-Authors

Motyka,  Paweł
Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Poland;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Grund,  Martin
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Forschack,  Norman
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Experimental Psychology and Methods, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Al,  Esra
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
MindBrainBody Institute at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, Germany;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Gaebler,  Michael
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
MindBrainBody Institute at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, Germany;
Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Citation

Motyka, P., Grund, M., Forschack, N., Al, E., Villringer, A., & Gaebler, M. (2019). Interactions between cardiac activity and conscious somatosensory perception. Psychophysiology, e13424. doi:10.1111/psyp.13424.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-E349-B
Abstract
Fluctuations in the heart's activity can modulate the access of external stimuli to consciousness. The link between perceptual awareness and cardiac signals has been investigated mainly in the visual and auditory domain. Here, we investigated whether the phase of the cardiac cycle and the prestimulus heart rate influence conscious somatosensory perception. We also tested how conscious detection of somatosensory stimuli affects the heart rate. Electrocardiograms (ECG) of 33 healthy volunteers were recorded while applying near‐threshold electrical pulses at a fixed intensity to the left index finger. Conscious detection was not uniformly distributed across the cardiac cycle but significantly higher in diastole than in systole. We found no evidence that the heart rate before a stimulus influenced its detection, but hits (correctly detected somatosensory stimuli) led to a more pronounced cardiac deceleration than misses. Our findings demonstrate interactions between cardiac activity and conscious somatosensory perception, which highlights the importance of internal bodily states for sensory processing beyond the auditory and visual domain.