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Interoceptive awareness in focal brain-damaged patients



Interoception is the basic process enabling evaluation of one’s own internal state of body, but its alteration in brain-damaged patients has not been adequately investigated. Our study aimed to investigate awareness of visceral and somatosensorial sensations in brain-damaged patients with unilateral stroke.


Sixty patients (22 with left brain damage, LP; 25 with right brain damage without neglect, RPN-; and 13 with right brain-damage and extrapersonal and/or personal neglect, RPN+) and 45 healthy controls (HC) completed the Self-Awareness Questionnaire (SAQ), a self-report tool for assessing interoceptive awareness with two domains related to visceral (VD) and somatosensory feelings (SD), respectively.


Comparing the SAQ subdomains scores between three groups of patients (LP, RPN-, and RPN+) and HC, we found that RPN+ had significantly lower scores on VD than HC and LP, whereas no significant difference was found on scores of SD between groups.


Our results support the hypothesis of a right-hemispheric dominance for “interoceptive neural network” suggesting that processing of visceral sensations would be located mainly in the right hemisphere. Therefore, a careful assessment of interoceptive awareness in clinical practice would be useful to improve rehabilitation and to engage patients with deficit of interoceptive awareness in developing greater accuracy of body signals.

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The authors thank Maria Giovanna Caruso for her help with recruitment of patients.


The present study has been supported by funding from Fondazione con il Sud to Liana Palermo (Brains2South – Project code: 2015-PDR-0248).

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Correspondence to Simona Raimo or Liana Palermo.

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S. Raimo and M. Boccia are co-first authors

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Raimo, S., Boccia, M., Di Vita, A. et al. Interoceptive awareness in focal brain-damaged patients. Neurol Sci 41, 1627–1631 (2020).

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  • Interoception
  • Interoceptive awareness
  • Visceral feelings
  • Brain damage
  • Neglect