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The link between interoceptive processing and anxiety in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Extending adult findings into a developmental sample

Palser, ER; Fotopoulou, A; Pellicano, E; Kilner, JM; (2018) The link between interoceptive processing and anxiety in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Extending adult findings into a developmental sample. Biological Psychology , 136 pp. 13-21. 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.05.003. Green open access

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Abstract

Anxiety is a major associated feature of autism spectrum disorders. The incidence of anxiety symptoms in this population has been associated with altered interoceptive processing. Here, we investigated whether recent findings of impaired interoceptive accuracy (quantified using heartbeat detection tasks) and exaggerated interoceptive sensibility (subjective sensitivity to internal sensations on self-report questionnaires) in autistic adults, can be extended into a school-age sample of children and adolescents (n = 75). Half the sample had a verified diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and half were IQ- and age-matched children and adolescents without ASD. The discrepancy between an individual’s score on these two facets of interoception (interoceptive accuracy and interoceptive sensibility), conceptualized as an interoceptive trait prediction error, was previously found to predict anxiety symptoms in autistic adults. We replicated the finding of reduced interoceptive accuracy in autistic participants, but did not find exaggerated interoceptive sensibility relative to non-autistic participants. Nonetheless, the positive association between anxiety and interoceptive trait prediction error was replicated. However, in this sample, the best predictor of anxiety symptoms was interoceptive sensibility. Finally, we observed lower metacognitive accuracy for interoception in autistic children and adolescents, relative to their non-autistic counterparts. Despite their reduced interoceptive accuracy on the heartbeat tracking task and comparable accuracy on the heartbeat discrimination task, the autistic group reported higher confidence than the typical group in the discrimination task. Findings are consistent with theories of ASD as a disorder of interoceptive processing, but highlight the importance of validating cognitive models of developmental conditions within developmental populations.

Type: Article
Title: The link between interoceptive processing and anxiety in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Extending adult findings into a developmental sample
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.05.003
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.05.003
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/).
Keywords: Interoception, Anxiety, Autism spectrum disorders, Developmental disorders
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10049048
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