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Interoception, the perception of the body's internal state, contributes to numerous aspects of higher-order cognition. Several theories suggest a causal role for atypical interoception in specific psychiatric disorders, including a recent claim that atypical interoception represents a transdiagnostic impairment across disorders characterized by reduced perception of one's own emotion (alexithymia). Such theories are supported predominantly by evidence from only one interoceptive domain (cardiac); however, evidence of domain-specific interoceptive ability highlights the need to assess interoception in noncardiac domains. Using novel interoceptive tasks, we demonstrate that individuals high in alexithymic traits show a reduced propensity to utilize interoceptive cues to gauge respiratory output (Experiment 1), reduced accuracy on tasks of muscular effort (Experiment 2), and taste sensitivity (Experiment 3), unrelated to any co-occurring autism, depression, or anxiety. Results suggest that alexithymia reflects a multidomain, multidimensional failure of interoception, which is consistent with theories suggesting that atypical interoception may underpin both symptom commonalities between psychiatric disorders and heterogeneity within disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original publication

DOI

10.1037/xge0000366

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Exp Psychol Gen

Publication Date

03/2018

Volume

147

Pages

398 - 408