Active information sampling varies across the cardiac cycle.

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    • Abstract:
      Perception and cognition oscillate with fluctuating bodily states. For example, visual processing has been shown to change with alternating cardiac phases. Here, we study the heartbeat's role for active information sampling—testing whether humans implicitly act upon their environment so that relevant signals appear during preferred cardiac phases. During the encoding period of a visual memory experiment, participants clicked through a set of emotional pictures to memorize them for a later recognition test. By self‐paced key press, they actively prompted the onset of short (100 ms) presented pictures. Simultaneously recorded electrocardiograms allowed us to analyze the self‐initiated picture onsets relative to the heartbeat. We find that self‐initiated picture onsets vary across the cardiac cycle, showing an increase during cardiac systole, while memory performance was not affected by the heartbeat. We conclude that active information sampling integrates heart‐related signals, thereby extending previous findings on the association between body‐brain interactions and behavior. Engagement with our environment requires the fine‐tuned interplay of brain and body. Here, we show that self‐paced manual actions in a visual sampling paradigm are coupled to the cardiac cycle. In particular, we find that participants were significantly more likely to prompt task‐relevant pictures during systole than diastole, but this did not further influence their recognition memory. Our findings complement recent evidence for facilitated visual processing during systole and propose a link between ongoing cardiac oscillations and active perception—thereby adding a new perspective on the underlying principles by which we sample the world around us. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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