Listen to your heart (beat): Viscero-sensory feedback leads to better decisions

In a study published in the journal Psychophysiology, the authors claim to provide the first empirical evidence that viscero-sensory feedback from an internal organ is associated with decision-making processes.

Participants with accurate vs. poor perception of their heart activity were compared with regard to their performance in the Iowa Gambling Task.

During this task, participants have to choose between four card decks:

- Decks A and B yield high gains and high losses, and if played continuously, result in net loss
- Decks C and D yield small gains and also small losses, but result in net profit if they are selected continuously

Participants have to learn to avoid the net loss options in favor of the net gain options.

In this study, participants with good cardiac perception chose significantly more of the net gain and fewer of the net loss options.

These findings may provide evidence of the role of visceral feedback in decision-making processes in complex situations.

Enhanced cardiac perception is associated with benefits in decision-making. Werner NS, Jung K, Duschek S, Schandry R. Psychophysiology. 2009 Jun 22. [Epub ahead of print].
Link via Shhh, I’m Trying to Listen to My Heartbeat Here: Enhanced cardiac perception associated with better decision-making
Image source: Gray's Anatomy, 1918, public domain.

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