Your Body Image is all in your head: Like Really- in your Brain!

Well we all knew that the way we see ourselves was all in our head, meaning the way we think, but a new study has shown that the cause might not just be the mind but the actual brain. The results basically suggests that people with Body Dysmorphic disorder have general abnormalities in visual processing which means that the brain has issues processing visual information. This could explain why a person suffering from Anorexia who is dangerously thin looks in in the mirror and sees themselves as fat. Which also means that the disorder may not be completely psychological, which may create more insight as to treat the disorder. If your brain has issue processing then perhaps traditional methods of treating the disorder, like therapy might be just one element of treatment. Where the study may not answer all the questions, (in fact it may pose more) it does provides important insight that could lead to a better more successful method of diagnosis and treatment for sufferers.

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In their research, investigators at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that people with body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, have less brain activity when processing images as a whole — what they call “the big picture” — than they do when looking at things in detail.

“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,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Jamie Feusner, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program at UCLA, said 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,” Feusner continued.

For the new study, Feusner and colleagues scanned the brains of 14 people with BDD and 14 healthy participants without the disorder (“controls”) as they looked at digital pictures of houses. Some of the photos included fine details while others were changed to show only general shapes. When looking at the less-detailed photos, less activity in the parts of the brain that process visual information was noted among BDD patients than among control participants. The authors noted that these findings were even more pronounced in more severe cases of BDD.

“The study suggests that BDD patients have general abnormalities in visual processing,” Feusner explained in the news release. “But we haven’t yet determined whether abnormal visual processing contributes as a cause to developing BDD or is the effect of having BDD. So it’s the chicken-or-the-egg phenomenon.”

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