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Title: The role of interoception in cognition, and its application to autism spectrum disorders
Author: Palser, Eleanor R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 0403
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Traditionally a distinction was drawn between cognitive and sensorimotor processes, with little consideration of communication between the two. However, many findings are incompatible with this separation (e.g. Lebedev & Wise, 2002; Patel, Fleming & Kilner, 2012). One particular domain where this is evidenced is interoception. Interoception has been defined as the sensing of the physiological condition of the body (Craig, 2002). While it has long been clear that interoception is of fundamental importance for homeostasis, it is increasingly being recognised as integral for multiple domains of cognition, including emotion. For example, those with greater access to their interoceptive states experience emotions more intensely (e.g. Wiens, Mezzacappa, & Katkin, 2000). These findings bare on our understanding of autism. For some time, exteroceptive sensory abnormalities has been recognised in autism, with such symptoms now included in the diagnostic criteria. Far less research has considered how interoception is implicated in autism. The reports of autistic people and their caregivers, in addition to a few empirical investigations, suggest that interoceptive processing is altered in autism. It is therefore possible that these interoceptive alterations are implicated in the cognitive symptoms of autism. In this PhD I conducted a series of experiments to test the hypothesis that afferent signals from the body, including interoceptive sensations, are involved in cognition, and that the processing of these signals is altered in autism. More specifically, I tested the role of bodily afferents in metacognition, movement, anxiety, and emotion. I also sought to determine if there are interoceptive differences in the three domains of interoception delineated by Garfinkel and colleagues (Garfinkel & Critchley, 2013; Garfinkel, Seth, Barrett, Suzuki, & Critchley, 2015) in autistic children and adolescents, having previously only been evaluated previously in autistic adults. Finally, I investigated whether differences in emotion processing in autism were related to interoception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available