Los Angeles — Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which causes people to see themselves as disfigured or ugly, is linked to an abnormality in how visual information is processed by the brain, HealthDay News reports.
A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), research team scanned the brains of 14 people with BDD and 14 people without as they looked at digital photos of houses. Some of the photos included fine details while others showed only general shapes. Less activity in the parts of the brain that process visual information was noted among BDD patients when looking at the less-detailed photos than among control participants. The authors noted the finding was even more pronounced among patients with more severe BDD.
“Many psychological researchers have long believed that people with body-image problems such as eating disorders only have distorted thoughts about their appearance, rather than having problems in the visual cortex, which precedes conscious thought,” said lead author Jamie Feusner, M.D., director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program at UCLA, in a university news release. “This study, along with our previous ones, shows that people with BDD have imbalances in the way they see details versus the big picture when viewing themselves, others and even inanimate objects.”
The authors suggested that their findings could lead to treatments that will help people with distorted self-images reconfigure how they view themselves.