Poster B15, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Interoceptive sensitivity is associated with affect, personality, and memory in older adults
Marcus Haustein1, Natalie Denburg1; 1University of Iowa
Interoception can be defined as the perception of signals from within the body, whether visceral or proprioceptive. Interoceptive sensitivity, then, is how sensitive an individual is to those signals. Interoceptive sensitivity has been found to be associated with emotional and cognitive variables among younger adults, but little is known about whether these relationships persist in older adults. In the present study, we take an exploratory approach to discover how interoceptive sensitivity relates to emotion and cognition in neurologically normal adults, aged 59-91 years old. Participants (N = 53) were recruited from an existing registry of older adults living independently in the Iowa City/Johnson County area. A heartbeat-counting task was used to measure interoceptive sensitivity, and self-report questionnaires measuring affect, personality, and mindfulness skills were administered. Neuropsychological data from prior research with these participants were also available for analysis. Data analysis with Pearson partial correlations revealed several relationships: 1) higher interoceptive sensitivity was associated with lower levels of positive affect; 2) higher interoceptive sensitivity was associated with lower levels of trait extraversion; and 3) higher interoceptive sensitivity was associated with stronger anterograde memory ability. These results suggest that, among older adults, interoceptive sensitivity is facilitative for aspects of cognition but perhaps disruptive for certain aspects of emotional experience. This study also lays the framework for future studies examining how interoceptive awareness may influence higher-order cognitive abilities (e.g., decision-making) in normal elderly.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Development & aging