For more information and to see if you qualify for the study, please call our Program Coordinator Courtney at 310-206-0468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of this study is to characterize shared and unique brain circuits associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Anorexia Nervosa (AN) using a set of functional neuroimaging experiments. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and anorexia nervosa (AN) are severe and disabling psychiatric disorders that share many clinical features such as distorted body image, overvaluation of appearance for self-worth, yet they are currently classified in separate diagnostic categories. Despite their significant morbidity and mortality, very little research has been conducted to compare and contrast these disorders in order to understand the underlying neurobiology of shared and unique clinical phenotypes.
An important shared clinical phenotype in BDD and AN is perceptual distortion of appearance, which may contribute to distorted body image. There is early evidence of similar, common phenotypes of disturbances in visual perception and visuospatial processing in BDD and AN, as evidenced clinically and from neuropsychological testing. However, little is known of the underlying neurobiological processes that mediate these. A preliminary functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study by our group in adults with BDD demonstrated abnormal activation in left hemisphere regions responsible for high-detail processing when viewing others’ faces. A more recent study in BDD demonstrated no abnormalities of primary emotional processing regions when viewing own-faces. AN, on the other hand, is often characterized by early, childhood-onset anxiety in addition to extreme fears of weight gain. However, no study has specifically examined fear processing in AN nor compared it to BDD.
The goal of the proposed study is to define the distinct and common phenotypes of visual and emotional processing in BDD and AN that map onto specific brain systems. This study will enroll 25 medication-free subjects with BDD, 25 with weight-restored AN, and 25 healthy controls. We will study individuals ages 13 to 30, in order to capture those who are the beginning stages of these illnesses. fMRI will be used to identify key abnormalities in brain systems associated with visual and emotional processing. Based on the previous fMRI paradigm in BDD, and other previous studies suggesting abnormalities of detail-processing in AN, this study will investigate visual processing of others’ faces, bodies, and non-face objects (houses) using different types of visual images that convey high, low, or normal level of detail. We are also utilizing eye-tracking to understand how visual search behaviors relate to brain activation patterns. To compare and contrast patterns of emotional processing, this study will use fearful face stimuli to understand common or distinct brain activity patterns associated with emotional reactivity, regulation, and habituation.
There is increasing awareness that our current categorically defined psychiatric disorders lack validity given symptom overlap, longitudinal shifts in symptom expression, and the absence of unique and singular biological markers. Therefore, bridging the study of overlapping disorders is a potential means of identifying shared and dissociable, illness-specific defects in causative mechanisms. A better understanding will help improve classification schemes and guide future research aimed at prevention, recovery, and cure.
For more information and to see if you qualify for the study, please call our Program Coordinator Courtney at 310-206-0468 or email email@example.com.