The Feeling of Me Feeling for You: Interoception, Alexithymia and Empathy in Autism.

J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Apr 11;:

Authors: Mul CL, Stagg SD, Herbelin B, Aspell JE

Abstract
Following recent evidence for a link between interoception, emotion and empathy, we investigated relationships between these factors in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 26 adults with ASD and 26 healthy participants completed tasks measuring interoception, alexithymia and empathy. ASD participants with alexithymia demonstrated lower cognitive and affective empathy than ASD participants without alexithymia. ASD participants showed reduced interoceptive sensitivity (IS), and also reduced interoceptive awareness (IA). IA was correlated with empathy and alexithymia, but IS was related to neither. Alexithymia fulfilled a mediating role between IA and empathy. Our findings are suggestive of an alexithymic subgroup in ASD, with distinct interoceptive processing abilities, and have implications for diagnosis and interventions.

PMID: 29644587 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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