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Seeing myself through my heart: Cortical processing of a single heartbeat speeds up self-face recognition

Ambrosini, Ettore, Finotti, Gianluca, Azevedo, Ruben T., Tsakiris, Manos, Ferri, Francesca (2019) Seeing myself through my heart: Cortical processing of a single heartbeat speeds up self-face recognition. Biological Psychology, 144 . pp. 64-73. ISSN 0301-0511. (doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.03.006) (KAR id:73817)

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Recent research has highlighted the contribution of interoceptive signals to different aspects of bodily self-consciousness (BSC) by means of the cardio-visual stimulation - i.e. perceiving a pulsing stimulus in synchrony with one’s own heart. Here, for the first time, we investigate the effects of individual heartbeats on a critical feature of BSC, namely the recognition of one’s own face. Across two studies, we explored the cardiac-timing effects on a classic self-face recognition task. In Study 1, participants saw morphed faces that contained different percentages of the self-face and that of another unfamiliar individual. Study 2 used a similar design, albeit participants saw morphed faces of the self-face and that of a familiar other to provide a better control of self-familiarity. Results from both studies consistently revealed that the cortical processing of cardiac afferent signals conveyed by the firing of arterial baroreceptors affects the speed, but not the accuracy, of self-face recognition, when a single picture is presented during cardiac systole, as compared to diastole. This effect is stronger and more stable for stimuli with more self-cues than other-cues and for ‘ambiguous’ stimuli – i.e. at the individual point of subjective equality. Results from Study 2 also revealed that cardiac effects on the speed of self-face recognition cannot be explained simply on the basis of the imbalanced familiarity between the self’s and other’s faces used. The present findings highlight the interoceptive contributions to self-recognition and may be expand our understanding of pathological disturbances of self-experience.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.03.006
Uncontrolled keywords: Bodily self, Face-Recognition, Cardiac cycle phases, Interoception
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Ruben Andre Teixeira Azevedo
Date Deposited: 08 May 2019 17:56 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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