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ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:946851. doi: 10.1155/2014/946851. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

Visual perception during mirror-gazing at one's own face in patients with depression.

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DIPSUM, Università di Urbino, Via Saffi 15, 61029 Urbino, Italy.
Unità Operativa di Psichiatria "Villa Santa Chiara", Via Monte Recamao 7, Quinto di Valpantena, 37142 Verona, Italy.
Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda-Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via F. Sforza 35, 20122 Milano, Italy.


In normal observers, gazing at one's own face in the mirror for a few minutes, at a low illumination level, produces the apparition of strange faces. Observers see distortions of their own faces, but they often see hallucinations like monsters, archetypical faces, faces of relatives and deceased, and animals. In this research, patients with depression were compared to healthy controls with respect to strange-face apparitions. The experiment was a 7-minute mirror-gazing test (MGT) under low illumination. When the MGT ended, the experimenter assessed patients and controls with a specifically designed questionnaire and interviewed them, asking them to describe strange-face apparitions. Apparitions of strange faces in the mirror were very reduced in depression patients compared to healthy controls. Depression patients compared to healthy controls showed shorter duration of apparitions; minor number of strange faces; lower self-evaluation rating of apparition strength; lower self-evaluation rating of provoked emotion. These decreases in depression may be produced by deficits of facial expression and facial recognition of emotions, which are involved in the relationship between the patient (or the patient's ego) and his face image (or the patient's bodily self) that is reflected in the mirror.

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