In our next Researcher Live series, we will be focusing on ‘Brain-body Interactions and new treatments for psychiatric disorders’ – bringing you four fantastic speakers.


Join our fourth episode on 28th October at 3 pm BST / 2 pm GMT for a talk with Dr. Esra AI, Columbia University. Sign up here to receive email reminders for this series.


What are we going to talk about in this episode? 


Internal bodily signals such as heartbeats can influence human cognition, perception, and action. However, the underlying mechanisms of these effects are poorly understood. In my talk, I will demonstrate how the heart influences somatosensory perception and motor activity. In a series of behavioral and EEG experiments, we have shown that somatosensory perception is impaired both during the systolic phase of the cardiac cycle and when heartbeats evoke strong cortical responses. Using simultaneous EEG-TMS, we further investigated whether these cardiac effects originate from general changes in excitability. In the motor domain, we observed that systolic cardiac signals have a facilitatory effect on motor excitability – in contrast to sensory attenuation that was observed for somatosensory perception. This suggests that action and perception have distinct windows in the cardiac cycle for optimal information processing. 


Together, this talk will highlight how cardiac signals influence the way we perceive our external world and interact with it.


Series programme:


  • 24th October, 4 pm BST / 3 pm GMT - ‘Interoception and mental health: integrating mind body and brain interactions’ with Dr Sahib Khalsa, University of Tulsa


  • 24th October, 6 pm BST / 5 pm GMT – ‘The brain-body axis in neurodevelopmental conditionswith Dr Eleanor Palser, University of California, San Francisco 


  • 27th October, 4 pm BST / 3 pm GMT – ‘How the brain processes gut feelingswith Dr Ryan Smith, University of Tulsa


  • 28th October, 3 pm BST / 2 pm GMT – ‘Heartbeats Influence Perception and Motor Activity’ with Dr Esra AI, Columbia University
Date and Time
Friday, October 28, 2022
03:00 pm BST / 02:00 pm GMT
Speakers Avatar Dr Esra AI, Columbia University

Dr. Esra Al completed her doctoral studies at Berlin School of Mind and Brain and Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences under the supervision of Prof. Arno Villringer. Her doctoral thesis focused on the effects of cardiac signals on somatosensory perception. She continues investigating the influence of bodily signals on perception as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in a collaboration with the Max Planck Institute.

DOI: 27UERyNdOBUraVri4VTe_prepost_3

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