A systematic review of visual processing and associated treatments in body dysmorphic disorder


Recent advances in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) have explored abnormal visual processing, yet it is unclear how this relates to treatment. The aim of this study was to summarize our current understanding of visual processing in BDD and review associated treatments. The literature was collected through PsycInfo and PubMed. Visual processing articles were included if written in English after 1970, had a specific BDD group compared to healthy controls and were not case studies. Due to the lack of research regarding treatments associated with visual processing, case studies were included. A number of visual processing abnormalities are present in BDD, including face recognition, emotion identification, aesthetics, object recognition and gestalt processing. Differences to healthy controls include a dominance of detailed local processing over global processing and associated changes in brain activation in visual regions. Perceptual mirror retraining and some forms of self‐exposure have demonstrated improved treatment outcomes, but have not been examined in isolation from broader treatments.Despite these abnormalities in perception, particularly concerning face and emotion recognition, few BDD treatments attempt to specifically remediate this. The development of a novel visual training programme which addresses these widespread abnormalities may provide an effective treatment modality.

In Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Volume 136