Changes in interoception after alcohol administration correlate with expectancies and subjective effects

Mateo Leganes-Fonteneau, Marsha E. Bates, Shahriar Islam, Jennifer F. Buckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interoceptive signals give rise to subjective feeling states that can drive motivational and behavioural responses. In the context of alcohol use behaviours, interoceptive signals may shape subjective alcohol experiences and thereby support biobehavioural mechanisms of drinking behaviour change. This study examined the acute effects of alcohol on participants' interoceptive abilities and determined whether pharmacologically induced changes in heart beat detection correlate with subjective alcohol effects, craving and expectancies. Participants completed a two-session, double-blind placebo controlled experiment (n = 27). Participants consumed a beverage containing 0.4 g/kg of alcohol or a placebo. They also completed measurements of alcohol expectancies at baseline, and alcohol-induced changes in mood, craving and light-headedness. Interoceptive ability was measured using the heartbeat discrimination task prior to and following beverage administration, yielding indices of interoceptive accuracy, confidence and meta-cognition. Alcohol administration increased interoceptive accuracy compared with baseline and placebo; and those changes in interoception negatively correlated with negative alcohol expectancies. Further, changes in interoception positively correlated with perceived light-headedness and positive mood after alcohol administration, whereas null effects were found for craving. In the placebo condition, null results were obtained. Alcohol is well established to change bodily states, and here, we find that the extent to which alcohol increases participants' sensitivity to bodily states correlates with their subjective drinking experiences. This was observed in relation to mood, light-headedness and prospective alcohol expectancies. We posit that over successive alcohol experiences, changes in bodily states may feed into the development of alcohol expectancies that could in turn predict future drinking behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13098
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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