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Neural correlates of own- and other-face perception in body dysmorphic disorder.

Ritter, Viktoria and Kaufmann, Jürgen M. and Krahmer, Franziska and Wiese, Holger and Stangier, Ulrich and Schweinberger, Stefan R. (2020) 'Neural correlates of own- and other-face perception in body dysmorphic disorder.', Frontiers in psychiatry., 11 . p. 302.


Background: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in one’s own appearance. Previous studies provided evidence for deficits in configural and holistic processing in BDD. Preliminary evidence suggests abnormalities at an early stage of visual processing. The present study is the first examining early neurocognitive perception of the own face in BDD by using electroencephalography (EEG). We investigated the face inversion effect, in which inverted (upside-down) faces are disproportionately poorly processed compared to upright faces. This effect reflects a disruption of configural and holistic processing, and in consequence a preponderance of featural face processing. Methods: We recorded face-sensitive event-related potentials (ERPs) in 16 BDD patients and 16 healthy controls, all unmedicated. Participants viewed upright and inverted (upside-down) images of their own face and an unfamiliar other face, each in two facial emotional expressions (neutral vs. smiling). We calculated the early ERP components P100, N170, P200, N250, and the late positive component (LPC), and compared amplitudes among both groups. Results: In the early P100, no face inversion effects were found in both groups. In the N170, both groups exhibited the common face inversion effects, with significantly larger N170 amplitudes for inverted than upright faces. In the P200, both groups exhibited larger inversion effects to other (relative to own) faces, with larger P200 amplitudes for other upright than inverted faces. In the N250, no significant group differences were found in face processing. In the LPC, both groups exhibited larger inversion effects to other (relative to own) faces, with larger LPC amplitudes for other inverted than upright faces. These overall patterns appeared to be comparable for both groups. Smaller inversion effects to own (relative to other) faces were observed in none of these components in BDD, relative to controls. Conclusions: The findings suggest no evidence for abnormalities at all levels of early face processing in our observed sample of BDD patients. Further research should investigate the neural substrates underlying BDD symptomatology.

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Publisher statement:Copyright © 2020 Ritter, Kaufmann, Krahmer, Wiese, Stangier and Schweinberger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:26 March 2020
Date deposited:15 May 2020
Date of first online publication:24 April 2020
Date first made open access:15 May 2020

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