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Brain's distorted perception of body may offer clue to eating disorders

Published on 17/06/2010
Eating disorders such as anorexia may be caused by a distortion in the way a person's brain perceives their own body, new research suggests.

Scientists at University College London found that the brain's internal model of the body is often out of sync with reality.

They conducted a study in which participants were asked to put their left-hand palm down under a board and point to what they believed to be the location of the covered hand's knuckles and fingertips.

It revealed a "dramatic" discrepancy between the perceived shape of the hand and its actual dimensions with a strong tendency to think that the hand is shorter and fatter than then in reality.

"The hand appears to be represented as wider than it actually is and the fingers as shorter than they actually are - a finding that might also apply to other parts of the body," said Dr Matthew Longo, from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the study's lead author.

"These findings may well be relevant to psychiatric conditions involving body image such as anorexia nervosa, as there may be a general bias towards perceiving the body to be wider than it is."

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is estimated that seven girls in every 1,000 suffer from an eating disorder while one boy in every 1,000 is also affected by the problem.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2010

Categories:  Medical
Brain's distorted perception of body may offer clue to eating disordersEating disorders such as anorexia may be caused by a distortion in the way a person's brain perceives their own body, new research suggests.    tweet it on twittershare with your friends on Facebookshare with your friends on MySpaceBlog it on your LinkedIn profile

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