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Body Dysmorphic Disorder Alters Perception of Faces

Abnormalities extend beyond patients' perception of themselves

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- People with body dysmorphic disorder have a different perception of other people's faces than someone without the condition, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Jamie D. Feusner, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a study of 12 right-handed patients with body dysmorphic disorder who were not on any medication, and 13 controls who were matched by age, sex and educational level. The investigators used functional MRI to view signal changes when subjects looked at photographs of other people's faces.

Compared with the controls, left hemisphere activity was greater among subjects with body dysmorphic disorder, notably the lateral prefrontal cortex and lateral temporal lobe regions. This occurred during viewing of full faces and low spatial frequency visual information, suggesting detail encoding and analysis as opposed to holistic processing.

"These abnormalities may be associated with apparent perceptual distortions in patients with body dysmorphic disorder," the authors conclude. "The fact that these findings occurred while subjects viewed others' faces suggests differences in visual processing beyond distortions of their own appearance."

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