abstract Pandelis Perakakis

Pandelis Perakakis (Centro de Investigación Mente, Cerebro Y Comportamiento, Universidad de Granada, Spain)

Interoceptive sensitivity and cognitive function: neurophysiological evidence

Interoception refers to our ability to perceive internal body signals like temperature, pain, muscular and visceral sensations, hunger, thirst, air hunger, etc. It has been shown that individuals differ in their sensitivity to these internal stimuli and that these individual differences relate to cognitive performance in laboratory tasks. Recent evidence supports that interoceptive sensitivity can be augmented using simple biofeedback techniques. In this talk, I will briefly review the neurophysiological literature on interception and describe methods to analyse the Heartbeat Evoked Potential (HEP), an electrical brain response to cardiac activity that has been linked to interoceptive sensitivity. Importantly, HEP provides a robust quantitative index of brain-heart interactions that can be correlated with cognitive performance on a trial-by-trial basis. I will discuss recent findings from our group that associate improved interoception with regular physical activity and put forward the hypothesis that interoceptive sensitivity may account, at least partly, for the cognitive benefits related with aerobic exercise. A better understanding of how brain-heart interactions are entrained by exercise to modulate cognitive performance can have significant implications for basic neurophysiological research but also for developing novel and sophisticated cognitive training programs.