Somatosensory Amplification and Its Relationship to Heartbeat Detection Ability

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Abstract

Objective

Somatosensory amplification has been defined as the tendency to experience normal bodily sensations as intense, noxious, and disturbing. The present experiment investigated whether this tendency is due to heightened physiological sensitivity to bodily sensations.

Methods

The relationship between Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS) scores and objective measures of the ability to detect bodily (ie, heartbeat) sensations derived from the Method of Constant Stimuli procedure was assessed. Although somatosensory amplification characterizes hypochondriacs, the relationship between somatosensory amplification and sensitivity to bodily sensations was examined in nonhypochondriacal, nonpatient participants in an effort to dissociate somatosensory amplification from other variables associated with hypochondriasis and/or patient status.

Results

Heartbeat detectors were found to exhibit significantly lower SSAS scores than nondetectors.

Conclusion

This finding suggests that somatosensory amplification is not due to heightened sensitivity to bodily sensations.

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