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Psychiatry Res. 2010 Oct 30;179(3):318-23. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2009.01.016. Epub 2010 May 20.

Impaired identity recognition of faces with emotional expressions in body dysmorphic disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are preoccupied with perceived physical defects or flaws, often facial features, which may be due to distorted perception. Previous studies have demonstrated abnormalities in visual processing of faces and figures, and misinterpretations of emotional expressions. The objective of this study was to determine in BDD how viewing faces with emotional expressions affects perception on an identity-matching task. Twelve BDD subjects and 11 healthy controls matched identities of faces with emotional expressions, neutral expressions, and a control task of ovals and circles. The BDD group made twice as many errors relative to controls for identity-matching of faces with emotional expressions but not for neutral faces or ovals/circles. Mean reaction times were slower for the BDD relative to the control group for emotional faces in general, but there was no effect of specific emotion type. These data suggest that individuals with BDD have abnormalities in facial identification for faces with emotional expressions. This could reflect fundamental abnormalities in visual information processing that are more pronounced for emotional expressions in general, and may relate to their perceptual disturbances.

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