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Information concerning the internal state of the body is arguably the basis for emotional feelings and may serve as the primary reference for the development of self-representation underpinning many aspects of consciousness. The combination of functional and structural neuroimaging, autonomic psychophysiology and patient studies has provided valuable insight into the brain mechanisms though which thoughts, feelings and behaviours are integrated with the signalling and control of bodily state. Recently, we have revisited the issue of how information concerning the timing and strength of individual heartbeats influences the perception and encoding of environmental and self-related stimuli. Our observations indicate that this channel of afferent viscerosensory signalling differentially impacts upon the processing of threat, enhancing the detection and salience of threat signals. This contrasts with the observed inhibition of other types of sensory processing including responses to pain stimuli. The study of interoceptive representations within the brain and their influence on perception cognition and emotion is revealing mechanisms relevant to consciousness science and disorders of selfhood that ultimately may inform new clinical therapeutic targets.


critchleyHugo Critchley trained in Physiology and Medicine in the University of Liverpool and received his doctorate in Psychological Studies at the University of Oxford. He undertook specialist training in psychiatry at Institute of Psychiatry and Institute of Neurology, in parallel with research fellowships including a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science awarded 2004. Before his appointment in BSMS, he was a principal investigator at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology and group leader at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Hugo’s research is now funded mainly by European Research Council and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.

Hugo’s research programme examines brain-body interactions, combining human neuroimaging with physiological monitoring and patient studies. The research addresses central autonomic control and interoception relevant to emotion. Through the Sackler Centre of Consciousness Science, the research also applies neural models of consciousness to understanding clinical disorders of mind.

Hugo is Chair in Psychiatry at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). Hugo is also co-director with Prof Anil Seth of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex.

Read more about Hugo Critchley.



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This event was co-sponsored with Western’s Brain And Mind Institute.


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