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dc.contributor.authorNicholson, Toby Men_UK
dc.contributor.authorWilliams, David Men_UK
dc.contributor.authorGrainger, Catherineen_UK
dc.contributor.authorChristensen, Julia Fen_UK
dc.contributor.authorCalvo-Merino, Beatrizen_UK
dc.contributor.authorGaigg, Sebastian Ben_UK
dc.description.abstractQuattrocki and Friston (2014) argued that abnormalities in interoception—the process of representing one’s internal physiological states—could lie at the heart of autism, because of the critical role interoception plays in the ontogeny of social-affective processes. This proposal drew criticism from proponents of the alexithymia hypothesis, who argue that social-affective and underlying interoceptive impairments are not a feature of autism per se, but of alexithymia (a condition characterized by difficulties describing and identifying one’s own emotions), which commonly co-occurs with autism. Despite the importance of this debate for our understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and of the role of interoceptive impairments in psychopathology, more generally, direct empirical evidence is scarce and inconsistent. Experiment 1 examined in a sample of 137 neurotypical (NT) individuals the association among autistic traits, alexithymia, and interoceptive accuracy (IA) on a standard heartbeat-tracking measure of IA. In Experiment 2, IA was assessed in 46 adults with ASD (27 of whom had clinically significant alexithymia) and 48 NT adults. Experiment 1 confirmed strong associations between autistic traits and alexithymia, but yielded no evidence to suggest that either was associated with interoceptive difficulties. Similarly, Experiment 2 provided no evidence for interoceptive impairments in autistic adults, irrespective of any co-occurring alexithymia. Bayesian analyses consistently supported the null hypothesis. The observations pose a significant challenge to notions that interoceptive impairments constitute a core feature of either ASD or alexithymia, at least as far as the direct perception of interoceptive signals is concerned.en_UK
dc.publisherAmerican Psychological Associationen_UK
dc.relationNicholson TM, Williams DM, Grainger C, Christensen JF, Calvo-Merino B & Gaigg SB (2018) Interoceptive impairments do not lie at the heart of autism or alexithymia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127 (6), pp. 612-622.
dc.rightsThis article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher.en_UK
dc.subjectheartbeat trackingen_UK
dc.titleInteroceptive impairments do not lie at the heart of autism or alexithymiaen_UK
dc.typeJournal Articleen_UK
dc.citation.jtitleJournal of Abnormal Psychologyen_UK
dc.type.statusVoR - Version of Recorden_UK
dc.contributor.funderEconomic and Social Research Councilen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationUniversity of Kenten_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationUniversity of Kenten_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationUniversity of Londonen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationUniversity of Londonen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationUniversity of Londonen_UK
dc.description.refREF Compliant by Deposit in Stirling's Repositoryen_UK
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles

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