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Keywords:

  • Cardiac awareness;
  • Emotion;
  • Autonomic reactivity;
  • Interoception;
  • Somatic markers

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between autonomic cardiovascular reactivity and cardiac awareness during the following conditions: baseline, emotional picture viewing, mental stress, and heartbeat tracking. Cardiac parameters were examined by using power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability and impedance cardiography. According to their performance in a heartbeat tracking task, 38 participants were classified as good (n=19) or poor (n=19) heartbeat perceivers. Neither group differed during baseline and heartbeat tracking, but good compared to poor heartbeat perceivers demonstrated greater sympathetic reactivity during mental stress and more vagal reactivity and subjective arousal during emotional picture viewing. The results suggest that cardiac awareness is related to greater responsivity of the autonomic nervous system during situations evoking autonomic reactivity.