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CCN talk: October 13, 2023

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith, PhD

Research Associate Professor, University of Tulsa; Principal Investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research

The Smith Laboratory

Co-sponsored by the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Breaking the Neural Code Cluster

Novel approaches for understanding the neurocomputational basis of interoception and emotion-cognition interactions

Abstract: How the brain detects and interprets signals from within the body – a process known as interoception – may play an important role in generating subjective feelings and contribute to psychiatric disorders. While interoception has received growing attention from researchers in recent years, the precise computational mechanisms through which the brain processes interoceptive signals, and how these signals influence emotion and cognition, remain unclear. In this talk, I will present recent computational modelling studies we have performed to better characterize these mechanisms across three interoceptive channels: gastrointestinal, cardiac, and respiratory. First, I will describe results of modeling gastrointestinal (GI) perception as Bayesian inference during EEG recording. As hypothesized within predictive processing models, these results show that individual differences in prior expectations, and in subjective estimates of the reliability (precision) of GI signals, have inhibitory and excitatory influences on neural responses, respectively. Second, I will describe results of modeling heartbeat perception as Bayesian inference, which suggest that subjective estimates of the precision of cardiac signals may be less flexible in multiple psychiatric patient samples (depression, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders) relative to healthy participants. Finally, I will present results of an ongoing study examining how respiratory interoception, and associated anxiety, influence neurocomputational mechanisms of planning and decision-making on reward-learning tasks, and how this differs between healthy and transdiagnostic patient samples. Overall, these results provide evidence for neurocomputational mechanisms of brain-body interactions across multiple interoceptive channels and how they contribute to subjective feelings and cognition. They may also highlight novel mechanistic treatment targets that could be evaluated in future clinical studies.