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Heart–brain interactions shape somatosensory perception and evoked potentials

MPS-Authors
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Al,  Esra
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
MindBrainBody Institute, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Fivos,  Iliopoulos
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany;

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

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Nierhaus,  Till
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Neurocomputation and Neuroimaging Unit, FU Berlin, Germany;

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Grund,  Martin
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, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Nikulin,  Vadim V.
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
MindBrainBody Institute, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Citation

Al, E., Fivos, I., Forschack, N., Nierhaus, T., Grund, M., Motyka, P., et al. (2020). Heart–brain interactions shape somatosensory perception and evoked potentials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(19), 10575-10584. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915629117.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-4F08-A
Abstract
Even though humans are mostly not aware of their heartbeats, several heartbeat-related effects have been reported to influence conscious perception. It is not clear whether these effects are distinct or related phenomena, or whether they are early sensory effects or late decisional processes. Combining electroencephalography and electrocardiography, along with signal detection theory analyses, we identify two distinct heartbeat-related influences on conscious perception differentially related to early vs. late somatosensory processing. First, an effect on early sensory processing was found for the heartbeat-evoked potential (HEP), a marker of cardiac interoception. The amplitude of the prestimulus HEP negatively correlated with localization and detection of somatosensory stimuli, reflecting a more conservative detection bias (criterion). Importantly, higher HEP amplitudes were followed by decreases in early (P50) as well as late (N140, P300) somatosensory- evoked potential (SEP) amplitudes. Second, stimulus timing along the cardiac cycle also affected perception. During systole, stimuli were detected and correctly localized less frequently, relating to a shift in perceptual sensitivity. This perceptual attenuation was accom- panied by the suppression of only late SEP components (P300) and was stronger for individuals with a more stable heart rate. Both heart-related effects were independent of alpha oscillations’ influence on somatosensory processing. We explain cardiac cycle timing effects in a predictive coding account and suggest that HEP-related effects might reflect spontaneous shifts between interoception and exteroception or modulations of general attentional resources. Thus, our results provide a general conceptual framework to explain how internal signals can be integrated into our conscious perception of the world.