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

Betka, Sophie, Gould Van Praag, Cassandra, Paloyelis, Yannis, Bond, Rod, Pfeifer, Gaby, Sequeira, Henrique, Duka, Theodora and Critchley, Hugo (2018) Impact of intranasal oxytocin on interoceptive accuracy in alcohol users: An attentional mechanism? Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. ISSN 1749-5016

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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.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Alcohol, Addiction, Alcohol use, Oxytocin, Interoception, Attention
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
School of Psychology > Psychology
Research Centres and Groups: Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science
Depositing User: Alexei Fisk
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 10:18
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2018 20:36

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