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150. Awareness of body sensations: A pilot study of novel measures and relevance to psychiatric symptoms in schizophrenia
Interoception is the sense or awareness of the current physiological state of one’s body. It is a fundamental process relevant to homeostasis and self-awareness that is understudied in mental health. Methods to examine interoception typically rely on monitoring internal body sensations, which are difficult to manipulate for parametric investigations and present a number of confounds. Recent work suggests awareness of homeostatic skin sensations may also be a form of interoceptive processing. The current pilot study tests this hypothesis by comparing accepted measures of interoception to novel indices of low-level heat awareness using controlled delivery of heat to the forearm. Data collection includes neuroimaging focused on insular cortex, the key brain region for interoceptive processing. Additionally, few studies have examined interoception in schizophrenia despite prominent structural and functional abnormalities of insular cortex in these individuals. To address this gap and test the potential of the novel paradigm for examining interoception in serious mental illness, data collection includes individuals with schizophrenia and matched controls. Preliminary data suggests increases in subjective ratings of heat, but decreases in objective accuracy of heat pulses, in schizophrenia relative to controls. Forthcoming analyses will examine the validity of this novel paradigm and its relevance to psychiatric symptoms.