Cold pressor stress induces opposite effects on cardioceptive accuracy dependent on assessment paradigm
Schulz, André × Lass-Hennemann, Johanna Sütterlin, Stefan Schächinger, Hartmut Vögele, Claus #
Biological Psychology vol:93 pages:167-174
Interoception depends on visceral afferent neurotraffic and central control processes. Physiological
arousal and organ activation provide the biochemical and mechanical basis for visceral afferent neurotraffic.
Perception of visceral symptoms occurs when attention is directed toward body sensations.
Clinical studies suggest that stress contributes to the generation of visceral symptoms. However, during
stress exposure attention is normally shifted away from bodily signals. Therefore, the net effects of
stress on interoception remain unclear. We, therefore, investigated the impact of the cold pressor test
or a control intervention (each n = 21) on three established laboratory paradigms to assess cardioceptive
accuracy (CA): for the Schandry-paradigm, participants were asked to count heartbeats, while during
the Whitehead-tasks subjects were asked to rate whether a cardiac sensation appeared simultaneously
with an auditory or visual stimulus. CA was increased by stress when attention was focused on visceral
sensations (Schandry), while it decreased when attention was additionally directed toward external
stimuli (visual Whitehead). Explanations for these results are offered in terms of internal versus external
deployment of attention, as well as specific effects of the cold pressor on the cardiovascular system.