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Impact of intranasal oxytocin on interoceptive accuracy in alcohol users: An attentional mechanism?

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posted on 2023-06-06, 09:56 authored by Sophie Betka, Cassandra Gould Van Praag, Yannis Paloyelis, Rod Bond, Gaby Pfeifer, Henrique Sequeira, Dora Duka, Hugo CritchleyHugo Critchley
Interoception, i.e. the perception and appraisal of internal bodily signals, is related to the phenomenon of craving, and is reportedly disrupted in alcohol use disorders. The hormone oxytocin influences afferent transmission of bodily signals and, through its potential modulation of craving, is proposed as a possible treatment for alcohol use disorders. However, oxytocin’s impact on interoception in alcohol users remains unknown. Healthy alcohol users (N=32) attended two laboratory sessions to perform tests of interoceptive ability (heartbeat tracking: attending to internal signals and, heartbeat discrimination: integrating internal and external signals) after intranasal administration of oxytocin or placebo. Effects of interoceptive accuracy, oxytocin administration and alcohol intake, were tested using mixed-effects models. On the tracking task, oxytocin reduced interoceptive accuracy, but did not interact with alcohol consumption. On the discrimination task, we found an interaction between oxytocin administration and alcohol intake: Oxytocin, compared to placebo, increased interoceptive accuracy in heavy drinkers, but not in light social drinkers. Our study does not suggest a pure interoceptive impairment in alcohol users but instead potentially highlights reduced flexibility of internal and external attentional resource allocation. Importantly, this impairment seems to be mitigated by oxytocin. This attentional hypothesis needs to be explicitly tested in future research.


Cardiac control of fear in brain; G1120; EUROPEAN UNION; 324150 CCFIB

Alexithymia, Interoception and Binge Drinking: oxytocin, a solution?; G1910; SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF ADDICTION


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Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience




Oxford University Press





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  • Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science Publications

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