Our understanding of this big and beautiful world is mostly taken care of by our five primary external senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. But scientific validations have brought up two additional senses in that list and they are Proprioception and Vestibular sensation. Proprioception deals with knowing the location and proportions of body parts whereas vestibular reception deals with the correlation between motion and senses. Other than these seven external senses, every normal person has an internal sense of what is going on in his/her body. Feelings like hunger, thirst or bladder pressure fall under this category of senses. With older age, this sense slowly starts fading away and thus symptoms like involuntary urine discharge become a common thing in the older population. Generally, this internal sensory factor is affected by patients suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder and seriously hampers self-regulation and understanding.
What is Interoception?
Commonly regarded as the 8th sense, Interception helps one understand what they are feeling and how to react accordingly. Receptors in the body organs send messages about the body functions to the brain and the processing of those messages leads to regulate hunger, breathing rate, urination and other vital functions of the body.
Does Autism involve Interoception discrepancy?
Patients suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder may not be able to tell if they feel pain or fatigue. They find it very difficult to sort their body feelings and senses into properly segmented categories. Many Autistic patients face a dilemma where their body confuses stimulation of different kinds like a tickle, itch or pain and ultimately cannot properly explain what they feel. In some cases, the patients do not understand bladder pressure or bowel movement and this can lead to toilet-associated disorders.
Patients suffering from Autism also show inappropriate understanding and interpretation of emotions. This affects their behavioral tendencies which may turn aggressive or blank during odd and unrelated situations. This is the major reason for autistic patients to feel uncomfortable and frustrated most of the time.
Can Regenerative Medicine improve Interoception?
Regenerative Medicine using stromal cells from bone marrow and adipose tissues have proved efficient in improving the neurophysiological and neuropsychiatric conditions of Autism patients according to several clinical research data. The ability of stem cells to undergo differentiation into various types of cells helps in improving conditions of defective hypothalamus and other brain regions. This natural process of rejuvenation and repair can help psychological reasoning and understanding with a great deal of improvement in the CNS signaling. Good neural signaling can always promote good Interoception. A better understanding of Interoception can be the key to interpreting unexplained behavior and bodily functions for Autism. Thus, besides improving physical and mental conditions for Autistic patients, clinical scientists can look further for the applications of regenerative medicine in this neuropsychiatric domain of internal body sense or Interoception as a future research prospect.