Measuring interoception (&#x2018;perceiving internal bodily states&#x2019;) has diagnostic and wellbeing implications. Since heartbeats are distinct and frequent, various methods aim at measuring cardiac interoceptive accuracy (CIAcc). However, the role of exteroceptive modalities for representing heart rate (HR) across screen-based and Virtual Reality (VR) environments remains unclear. Using a PolarH10 HR monitor, we develop a modality-dependent cardiac recognition task that modifies displayed HR. In a mixed-factorial design (N=50), we investigate how task environment (Screen, VR), modality (Audio, Visual, Audio-Visual), and real-time HR modifications (<inline-formula><tex-math notation="LaTeX">$\pm$</tex-math></inline-formula>15%, <inline-formula><tex-math notation="LaTeX">$\pm$</tex-math></inline-formula>30%, None) influence CIAcc, interoceptive awareness, mind-body measures, VR presence, and post-experience responses. Findings showed that participants confused their HR with underestimates up to 30%; environment did not affect CIAcc but influenced mind-related measures; modality did not influence CIAcc, however including audio increased interoceptive awareness; and VR presence inversely correlated with CIAcc. We contribute a lightweight and extensible cardiac interoception measurement method, and implications for biofeedback displays.

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IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

El Ali, A, Ney, R.L, van Berlo, Z.M.C, & César Garcia, P.S. (2023). Is that my heartbeat? Measuring and understanding modality-dependent Cardiac Interoception in Virtual Reality. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 1–11. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2023.3320228