Study shows brain differences in interpreting physical signals in mental health disorders

Researchers have shown why people with mental health disorders, including anorexia and panic disorders, experience physical signals differently.

  Binary code  Credit: Geralt from Pixabay

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, found that the part of the brain which interprets physical signals from the body behaves differently in people with a range of mental health disorders, suggesting that it could be a target for future treatments.

The researchers studied ‘interoception’ – the ability to sense internal conditions in the body – and whether there were any common brain differences during this process in people with mental health disorders. They found that a region of the brain called the dorsal mid-insula showed different activity during interoception across a range of disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders and anxiety disorders.

Many people with mental health disorders experience physical symptoms differently, whether that’s feeling uncomfortably full in anorexia, or feeling like you don’t have enough air in panic disorder.

The results, reported in The American Journal of Psychiatry, show that activity in the dorsal mid-insula could drive these different interpretations of bodily sensations in mental health. Increased awareness of the differences in how people experience physical symptoms could also be useful to those treating mental health disorders.

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Credit: Geralt from Pixabay

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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