Interoception, the perception of internal bodily states, is thought to be inextricably linked to affective qualities such as anxiety. While interoception spans sensory to metacognitive processing, it is not clear whether anxiety is differentially related to these processing levels. Here we investigated this question in the domain of breathing, using computational modelling and high-field (7 Tesla) fMRI to assess brain activity relating to dynamic changes in inspiratory resistance of varying predictability. Notably, the anterior insula was associated with both breathing-related prediction certainty and prediction errors, suggesting an important role in representing and updating models of the body. Individuals with low vs. moderate anxiety traits showed differential anterior insula activity for prediction certainty. Multimodal analyses of data from fMRI, computational assessments of breathing-related metacognition, and questionnaires demonstrated that anxiety-interoception links span all levels from perceptual sensitivity to metacognition, with strong effects seen at higher levels of interoceptive processes.

Competing Interest Statement

FV been invited to scientific meetings, consulted and/or served as speaker and received compensation by Lundbeck, Servier, Recordati, Janssen, Otsuka, LivaNova and Chiesi. None of these links of interest are related to this work. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to declare.

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