Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Neuroscience

Supervisor

Stefan Kohler

Abstract

Interoception has recently come under research focus as a potential influence on emotional and epistemic feelings. However, existing means to manipulate it experimentally have conceptual or logistical drawbacks. We investigated whether 20 mg of propranolol is a viable agent for experimentally manipulating interoception. Thirteen participants completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, performing two heartbeat perception tasks, control tasks and measures of anxiety and alertness. All measures were obtained at the beginning and end of both sessions. Propranolol significantly decreased heart rate and systolic blood pressure. Heartbeat detection performance numerically decreased under propranolol, although this effect failed to reach statistical significance. Heartbeat tracking exhibited a practice effect in both sessions. There were no significant effects on the control tasks. State anxiety was unchanged within either session, and alertness decreased in both. These findings validate the propranolol paradigm, and the numerical change in heartbeat detection warrants follow-up with a larger sample.


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