EM-BODY: Interoceptive mechanisms of emotion in mental health treatment


  • Prof Sarah Garfinkel

    University College London, United Kingdom

  • Dr Camilla Nord

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • Prof Tim Dalgleish

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • Prof Hugo Critchley

    University of Sussex, United Kingdom

  • Dr Edwin Dalmaijer

    University of Bristol, United Kingdom

  • Dr Jessica Eccles

    Brighton and Sussex Medical School, United Kingdom

  • Dr Lucy Foulkes

    University College London, United Kingdom

  • Dr Adrian Yoris

    FundaciĆ³n INECO

Project summary

The sense you have of the internal state of your body - interoception - is key to detecting, interpreting, and regulating emotion. Interoception is a common mechanism underlying emotion-based active ingredients targeted in the treatment of anxiety and depression: affective awareness, emotional granularity, emotional controllability, and emotion regulation. We propose a three-stage approach to assess, augment, and clinically track interoceptive mechanisms of emotion in mental health treatments. In WP1, we will establish a comprehensive battery of interoceptive assessments and determine their links with emotion-based active ingredients, depression and anxiety, allowing us to characterise dimensions and disruptions of interoceptive signaling on an individual basis. In WP2 we will demonstrate causality, showing how targeted modulation of interoception across different hierarchical levels improves emotion-based active ingredients. In WP3, we will use reverse-translation to link efficacy of an established treatment, mindfulness training, to enhancements in emotion-based active ingredients and their interoceptive mechanisms. Experiments will take place across the UK and Argentina, fully integrating lived experience expertise from conceptualization to dissemination. Uncovering the interoceptive mechanisms of emotion-based active ingredients could transform treatment options, helping identify who might benefit from interoceptive targeting, and leading to the development of interoceptive 'boosters' to improve treatment outcome for depression and anxiety