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Interoception and stress.

Schulz A, Vögele C - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Interoception refers to the processing of visceral-afferent neural signals by the central nervous system, which can finally result in the conscious perception of bodily processes.As a consequence, interoceptive signal processing may be altered, resulting in physical symptoms contributing to the development and/or maintenance of body-related mental disorders, which are associated with stress.In the current paper, we summarize findings on psychobiological processes underlying acute and chronic stress and their interaction with interoception.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Health and Behaviour, Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development, University of Luxembourg Walferdange, Luxembourg.

ABSTRACT
Afferent neural signals are continuously transmitted from visceral organs to the brain. Interoception refers to the processing of visceral-afferent neural signals by the central nervous system, which can finally result in the conscious perception of bodily processes. Interoception can, therefore, be described as a prominent example of information processing on the ascending branch of the brain-body axis. Stress responses involve a complex neuro-behavioral cascade, which is elicited when the organism is confronted with a potentially harmful stimulus. As this stress cascade comprises a range of neural and endocrine pathways, stress can be conceptualized as a communication process on the descending branch of the brain-body axis. Interoception and stress are, therefore, associated via the bi-directional transmission of information on the brain-body axis. It could be argued that excessive and/or enduring activation (e.g., by acute or chronic stress) of neural circuits, which are responsible for successful communication on the brain-body axis, induces malfunction and dysregulation of these information processes. As a consequence, interoceptive signal processing may be altered, resulting in physical symptoms contributing to the development and/or maintenance of body-related mental disorders, which are associated with stress. In the current paper, we summarize findings on psychobiological processes underlying acute and chronic stress and their interaction with interoception. While focusing on the role of the physiological stress axes (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis and autonomic nervous system), psychological factors in acute and chronic stress are also discussed. We propose a positive feedback model involving stress (in particular early life or chronic stress, as well as major adverse events), the dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered perception of bodily sensations, and the generation of physical symptoms, which may in turn facilitate stress.

No MeSH data available.


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Synthesis of findings on acute and chronic stress, dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered interoception and the generation of physical symptoms into model comprising a positive feedback loop.
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Figure 1: Synthesis of findings on acute and chronic stress, dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered interoception and the generation of physical symptoms into model comprising a positive feedback loop.

Mentions: Based on the findings from the current review, we propose a conceptual framework that allows for the explanation of the role of the dysregulated association between interoception and stress for the generation of physical symptoms (see Figure 1). In this model we postulate that stress is the initial point of a positive feedback cascade. In case of an acute stressor, the cascade will follow the pathway b–d–e. In particular, acute stress will activate physiological stress axes, such as the release of cortisol and activation of peripheral organs by sympathetic mechanisms. The altered stimulation of peripheral interoceptors and central effects of cortisol and noradrenergic structures will affect the perception of bodily sensations (e.g., perception of tachycardia or positive cardiac inotropy). Alterations in the perception of bodily sensations may temporarily feed into the experience of physical symptom during acute stress, for instance, palpitations, nausea or breathlessness. The perception of these symptoms could then be perceived as stressful and thus contribute to the maintenance of a stress response. However, due to the limited duration of an acute stress response, the cascade will be disrupted after the stress-eliciting stimulus has disappeared. In case of the confrontation with a chronic, early or major life stressor, the dysregulation of physiological stress axes (e.g., chronic hyper-activation of the HPA axis or the SAM axis) is implied and the model will follow the pathway a-c-d-e. Once the manifestation of a stress axis disorder has occurred, the cascade cannot be easily disrupted anymore, even if the initial stressor has disappeared. In detail, if the organism experiences chronic dysregulation of a stress axis, this state may permanently induce altered perception of bodily sensations and contribute to the manifestation of physical symptoms, whose perception consolidates the experience of stress. This model has an intended similarity to the model of somatosensory amplification by Barsky et al. (1988) and Barsky (1992), which emphasizes the importance of positive feedback mechanisms in activation, stress and physical symptoms. In contrast to the model by Barsky et al. (1988) however, the current model makes no assumptions about the role of attention to bodily sensations, although the latter could be conceived of as one of several psychobiological mechanisms. The core assumption in the current model concerns the interrelation of ascending and descending signals on the brain body axis in a positive feedback fashion. The following paragraphs will summarize empirical findings supporting this model.


Interoception and stress.

Schulz A, Vögele C - Front Psychol (2015)

Synthesis of findings on acute and chronic stress, dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered interoception and the generation of physical symptoms into model comprising a positive feedback loop.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4507149&req=5

Figure 1: Synthesis of findings on acute and chronic stress, dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered interoception and the generation of physical symptoms into model comprising a positive feedback loop.
Mentions: Based on the findings from the current review, we propose a conceptual framework that allows for the explanation of the role of the dysregulated association between interoception and stress for the generation of physical symptoms (see Figure 1). In this model we postulate that stress is the initial point of a positive feedback cascade. In case of an acute stressor, the cascade will follow the pathway b–d–e. In particular, acute stress will activate physiological stress axes, such as the release of cortisol and activation of peripheral organs by sympathetic mechanisms. The altered stimulation of peripheral interoceptors and central effects of cortisol and noradrenergic structures will affect the perception of bodily sensations (e.g., perception of tachycardia or positive cardiac inotropy). Alterations in the perception of bodily sensations may temporarily feed into the experience of physical symptom during acute stress, for instance, palpitations, nausea or breathlessness. The perception of these symptoms could then be perceived as stressful and thus contribute to the maintenance of a stress response. However, due to the limited duration of an acute stress response, the cascade will be disrupted after the stress-eliciting stimulus has disappeared. In case of the confrontation with a chronic, early or major life stressor, the dysregulation of physiological stress axes (e.g., chronic hyper-activation of the HPA axis or the SAM axis) is implied and the model will follow the pathway a-c-d-e. Once the manifestation of a stress axis disorder has occurred, the cascade cannot be easily disrupted anymore, even if the initial stressor has disappeared. In detail, if the organism experiences chronic dysregulation of a stress axis, this state may permanently induce altered perception of bodily sensations and contribute to the manifestation of physical symptoms, whose perception consolidates the experience of stress. This model has an intended similarity to the model of somatosensory amplification by Barsky et al. (1988) and Barsky (1992), which emphasizes the importance of positive feedback mechanisms in activation, stress and physical symptoms. In contrast to the model by Barsky et al. (1988) however, the current model makes no assumptions about the role of attention to bodily sensations, although the latter could be conceived of as one of several psychobiological mechanisms. The core assumption in the current model concerns the interrelation of ascending and descending signals on the brain body axis in a positive feedback fashion. The following paragraphs will summarize empirical findings supporting this model.

Bottom Line: Interoception refers to the processing of visceral-afferent neural signals by the central nervous system, which can finally result in the conscious perception of bodily processes.As a consequence, interoceptive signal processing may be altered, resulting in physical symptoms contributing to the development and/or maintenance of body-related mental disorders, which are associated with stress.In the current paper, we summarize findings on psychobiological processes underlying acute and chronic stress and their interaction with interoception.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Health and Behaviour, Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development, University of Luxembourg Walferdange, Luxembourg.

ABSTRACT
Afferent neural signals are continuously transmitted from visceral organs to the brain. Interoception refers to the processing of visceral-afferent neural signals by the central nervous system, which can finally result in the conscious perception of bodily processes. Interoception can, therefore, be described as a prominent example of information processing on the ascending branch of the brain-body axis. Stress responses involve a complex neuro-behavioral cascade, which is elicited when the organism is confronted with a potentially harmful stimulus. As this stress cascade comprises a range of neural and endocrine pathways, stress can be conceptualized as a communication process on the descending branch of the brain-body axis. Interoception and stress are, therefore, associated via the bi-directional transmission of information on the brain-body axis. It could be argued that excessive and/or enduring activation (e.g., by acute or chronic stress) of neural circuits, which are responsible for successful communication on the brain-body axis, induces malfunction and dysregulation of these information processes. As a consequence, interoceptive signal processing may be altered, resulting in physical symptoms contributing to the development and/or maintenance of body-related mental disorders, which are associated with stress. In the current paper, we summarize findings on psychobiological processes underlying acute and chronic stress and their interaction with interoception. While focusing on the role of the physiological stress axes (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis and autonomic nervous system), psychological factors in acute and chronic stress are also discussed. We propose a positive feedback model involving stress (in particular early life or chronic stress, as well as major adverse events), the dysregulation of physiological stress axes, altered perception of bodily sensations, and the generation of physical symptoms, which may in turn facilitate stress.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus