Bioscience

Skin helps heartbeat creep into consciousness

November 4, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: New Scientist] – Not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve, but tests on a brain-damaged man suggest that we may all sense our heartbeat with our skin. The finding may help to unravel the complex relationship between the heartbeat, our emotions and self-awareness.

Awareness of our internal organs – the ability to feel your stomach growl and your heart beat – is known as “interoception”. While the brain subconsciously monitors heartbeat, the mechanism by which the sensation creeps into the consciousness and so influences our emotional state has fascinated researchers studying consciousness, and remains somewhat mysterious.

Neuroimaging studies have previously linked heartbeat interoception to the brain’s insula and anterior cingulate cortex.

For more information: Skin helps heartbeat creep into consciousness