Altered interoceptive processing in smokers: Evidence from the heartbeat tracking task.


School of Psychology and Sport Science, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Electronic address: [Email]


Neuroimaging evidence suggests that interoceptive processing might be altered in nicotine addiction, however this has not yet been confirmed with behavioural measures. Therefore, we investigated the perception of internal bodily states in smokers (n = 49) and people who had never smoked (n = 51), by measuring interoceptive accuracy (IAcc) and interoceptive sensibility (IS). IAcc was measured with a heartbeat tracking task and a heartbeat discrimination task. Performance on the heartbeat tracking task may be influenced by one's ability to estimate an elapsed time interval so this was controlled by also administering a time-estimation (TE) task. IS was measured using two sub-scales from the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). All smokers completed the Revised Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND-R) to measure addiction severity. Non-smokers performed significantly better than smokers on the heartbeat tracking task. There were no significant group differences observed for the remaining variables. Furthermore, none of the variables predicted addiction severity. This is the first demonstration of behavioural differences in interoception between smokers and non-smokers.


Addiction,Heartbeat detection,Interoception,Interoceptive sensibility,Smoking,