Hugo Critchley, of Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, delivered a lecture on October 15, 2015 entitled, Interoception, Emotion and Self: How the Heart Gates Feelings and Perceptions. Video of this lecture has been posted on the Rotman Institute of Philosophy YouTube channel.

Abstract: 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.


Interoception, Emotion and Self: How the Heart Gates Feelings and Perceptions was the first Neurophilosophy Lecture of the academic year, co-sponsored with Western’s Brain And Mind Institute. The next Neurophilosophy Lecture, Carl Craver: Memory, Time and Agency, will take place on March 31, 2016. A Rotman Colloquium Lecture, Carl Craver: Ontic Basis of Network Explanation, will follow on April 1, 2016. Please visit the event pages to view abstracts and further details about these upcoming lectures.

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