Contribution of interoceptive information to emotional processing: Evidence from individuals with spinal cord injury

Francesca Pistoia, Antonio Carolei, Simona Sacco, Massimiliano Conson, Caterina Pistarini, Benedetta Cazzulani, Janet Stewart, Marco Franceschini, Marco Sarà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is much evidence to suggest that recognizing and sharing emotions with others require a first-hand experience of those emotions in our own body which, in turn, depends on the adequate perception of our own internal state (interoception) through preserved sensory pathways. Here we explored the contribution of interoception to first-hand emotional experiences and to the recognition of others' emotions. For this aim, 10 individuals with sensory deafferentation as a consequence of high spinal cord injury (SCI; five males and five females; mean age, 48 ± 14.8 years) and 20 healthy subjects matched for age, sex, and education were included in the study. Recognition of facial expressions and judgment of emotionally evocative scenes were investigated in both groups using the Ekman and Friesen set of Pictures of Facial Affect and the International Affective Picture System. A two-way mixed analysis of variance and post hoc comparisons were used to test differences among emotions and groups. Compared with healthy subjects, individuals with SCI, when asked to judge emotionally evocative scenes, had difficulties in judging their own emotional response to complex scenes eliciting fear and anger, while they were able to recognize the same emotions when conveyed by facial expressions. Our findings endorse a simulative view of emotional processing according to which the proper perception of our own internal state (interoception), through preserved sensory pathways, is crucial for first-hand experiences of the more primordial emotions, such as fear and anger.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1981-1986
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Volume32
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2015

Keywords

  • anger
  • emotions
  • fear
  • interoception
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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