Abstract ID: 3788

Primary Topic: Mind-body (including meditation and yoga)
Secondary Topic: Basic Science

Interoception, Meditation, and Pain
Wen G. Chen, MMSc., PhD, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), Bethesda, MD, United States; Cynthia J. Price, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States; Sahib Khalsa, M.D., Ph.D., University of Tulsa, OK, Tulsa, OK, United States; Stephen Liberles, PhD, Harvard Medical School , Boston, MA, United States; Jennifer S. Labus, PhD, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

Late Breaker: No

Overview

The ability of the brain to consciously sense the physiological state of the body, including the cardiorespiratory system, gastrointestinal system, nociceptive system, endocrine and immune system, has commonly defined the sensory process called interoception.  Meditative practices often employ techniques to heighten and enhance the interoceptive experience.  In addition, mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit pain relief in patients with chronic pain.  A recent body of research has begun to examine the mechanisms underlying the interoceptive experience of meditative practices as well as the impact of meditative practices on nociceptive processing.  This symposium will bring some of the leaders in the fields of interoception, meditation, and pain together to discuss cutting-edge findings and explore the potential connections among interoception, meditation, and possibly pain.   Dr. Cynthia Price from University of Washington, an NCCIH Advisory Council member, will first present recent advances on the relationships among interoception, meditation, and emotional regulation in clinical care.  Dr. Sahib S. Khalsa, Director of Clinical Studies at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, will then present current research on the neural mechanisms of interoception from human studies.  Next, Dr. Stephen Liberles at Harvard Medical School, who has pioneered some of the most influential work on the molecular and neural circuitry mechanisms underlying interoception in animal models, will present his current theory and research on the mechanisms of interoception.   Lastly, Dr. Jennifer Labus from the University of California at Los Angeles will present and discuss recent findings from the Pain and Interoception Imaging Network (PAIN).  The session will conclude with a question/answer and discussion period moderated by Dr. Wen Chen from NCCIH.   

Rationale

The ability of the brain to consciously sense the physiological state of the body, including the cardiorespiratory system, gastrointestinal system, nociceptive system, endocrine and immune system has commonly defined the sensory process called interoception.  Meditative practices commonly employ techniques to heighten and enhance the interoceptive experience.  In addition, mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit pain relief in patients with chronic pain.  Recent scientific research advances began to examine the mechanisms underlying the interoceptive experience of meditative practices as well as the impact of meditative practices on pain.  This symposium will bring some of the leaders in the fields of interoception, meditation, and pain together to discuss cutting-edge findings and to explore the potential connections among interoception, meditation, and possibly pain.  A better understanding of these inter-connections may facilitate the development of more effective complementary therapies to address some of the most challenging medical conditions of the current time. 

Objectives

As a result of attending this session, participants will be able to: 1) describe current and cutting-edge scientific research on interoception, meditation, and chronic pain; 2) discuss the importance of interoception research for improving our understanding of mind and body interventions and their potential clinical benefits; and 3) promote a dialogue about promising future research directions on interoception and its impact on health.

Methods/Session Format

Total: 90 minutes

  • Cynthia Price – 18 minutes of presentation and 2 minutes of Q&A
  • Sahib Khalsa – 18 minutes of presentation and 2 minutes of Q&A
  • Stephen Liberles -- 18 minutes of presentation and 2 minutes of Q&A
  • Jennifer Labus -- 18 minutes of presentation and 2 minutes of Q&A
  • Wen Chen – summary and moderating general discussions, 10 minutes

Outline

  • What is the current scientific evidence on how brain detects and processes interoceptive sensation?
  • What is the current scientific evidence on how meditative practices utilize and modulate interoceptive experience?
  • Are there any common brain regions or neural networks involved in pain experience, interoceptive sensation, and mindfulness meditation?
  • How can understanding interoception at the molecular and neural circuitry levels help optimize the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation?
  • Is the experience of pain a form of interoceptive awareness, and if so, how can meditation help to manage conditions marked by chronic pain or interoceptive dysregulation?