Impact of cardiac interoception cues on voluntary decisions to make or withhold action in an intentional inhibition task
Rae C., Ahmad A., Larsson DEO., Silva M., Gould van Praag CD., Garfinkel S., Critchley H.
<p>Interoceptive signals concerning the internal physiological state of the body influence motivational feelings and action decisions. Cardiovascular arousal may facilitate inhibition to mitigate risks of impulsive actions. Baroreceptor discharge at ventricular systole underpins afferent signalling of cardiovascular arousal. We used a modified Go/NoGo task to demonstrate that decisions to make or withhold actions on ‘Choose’ trials were not, in fact, influenced by cardiac phase. However, cardiac interoceptive awareness (insight) predicted how frequently participants chose to act: Participants with higher awareness tended to withhold actions, while those with lower awareness tended to execute actions. Moreover, on a scale of impulsive behaviour, self-reported urgency correlated negatively with intentional inhibition rates. Individual differences in heart rate variability did not predict intentional inhibition. These findings suggest that lower insight into bodily signals is linked to urges to move the body, putatively by engendering noisier sensory input into motor decision processes eliciting reactive behaviour.</p>