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Functional connectivity between interoceptive brain regions is associated with distinct health-related domains: A population-based neuroimaging study

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  • Alexander Luettich, University of Oxford
  • ,
  • Carolin Sievers, University of Oxford
  • ,
  • Fidel Alfaro Almagro, University of Oxford
  • ,
  • Micah Allen
  • Saad Jbabdi, University of Oxford
  • ,
  • Stephen M. Smith, University of Oxford
  • ,
  • Kyle T.S. Pattinson, University of Oxford

Interoception is the sensation, perception, and integration of signals from within the body. It has been associated with a broad range of physiological and psychological processes. Further, interoceptive variables are related to specific regions and networks in the human brain. However, it is not clear whether or how these networks relate empirically to different domains of physiological and psychological health at the population level. We analysed a data set of 19,020 individuals (10,055 females, 8965 males; mean age: 63 years, age range: 45–81 years), who have participated in the UK Biobank Study, a very large-scale prospective epidemiological health study. Using canonical correlation analysis (CCA), allowing for the examination of associations between two sets of variables, we related the functional connectome of brain regions implicated in interoception to a selection of nonimaging health and lifestyle related phenotypes, exploring their relationship within modes of population co-variation. In one integrated and data driven analysis, we obtained four statistically significant modes. Modes could be categorised into domains of arousal and affect and cardiovascular health, respiratory health, body mass, and subjective health (all p <.0001) and were meaningfully associated with distinct neural circuits. Circuits represent specific neural “fingerprints” of functional domains and set the scope for future studies on the neurobiology of interoceptive involvement in different lifestyle and health-related phenotypes. Therefore, our research contributes to the conceptualisation of interoception and may lead to a better understanding of co-morbid conditions in the light of shared interoceptive structures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Pages (from-to)3210-3221
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

    Research areas

  • arousal and affect and cardiovascular health, body mass, functional connectivity, interoception, respiratory health, subjective health

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