People suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD - a severe mental illness characterized by debilitating misperceptions that one appears disfigured and ugly - process visual information abnormally, even when looking at inanimate objects, according to a new UCLA study.
First author Dr. Jamie Feusner, a UCLA assistant professor of psychiatry, and colleagues found that patients with the disorder have less brain activity when processing holistic visual elements that provide the "big picture," regardless of whether that picture is a face or an object.
The research appears in the current online edition of the journal Psychological Medicine.
"No study until this one has investigated the brain's activity for visually processing objects in people with BDD," said Feusner, director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program at UCLA. "This is an important step to figuring out what's going wrong in the brains of people with BDD so we can develop treatments to change their perceptions of themselves."
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