The relationship between Heartbeat Counting and Heartbeat Discrimination: a meta-analysis

Lydia Hickman, Aida Seyedsalehi, Jennifer Cook, Geoff Bird, Jennifer Murphy

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Interoception concerns the perception of the body’s internal state. Despite the importance of this ability for health and aspects of higher-order cognition, its measurement remains problematic. Most studies of interoception employ one of two tasks: the heartbeat counting or heartbeat discrimination task. These tasks are thought to index common abilities, an assertion often used to justify the use of a single measure of cardiac interoception. However, mixed findings regarding the relationship between performance on these tasks raises the question of whether they can be used interchangeably to assess interoceptive accuracy, confidence and awareness (‘metacognition’). The present study employed a meta-analytical approach to assess the association between these tasks. Pooled findings from 22 studies revealed a small relationship between accuracy scores on the measures. Additional analyses demonstrated a moderate relationship between confidence ratings but no association between measures of interoceptive awareness. These findings question the interchangeable use of the two tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107949
JournalBiological Psychology
Early online date7 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Heartbeat counting
  • cardiac interoception
  • heartbeat detection
  • heartbeat discrimination
  • interoceptive accuracy


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