Visual body perception in anorexia nervosa

Cosimo Urgesi, Livia Fornasari, Laura Perini, Francesca Canalaz, Silvana Cremaschi, Laura Faleschini, Matteo Balestrieri, Franco Fabbro, Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Disturbance of body perception is a central aspect of anorexia nervosa (AN) and several neuroimaging studies have documented structural and functional alterations of occipito-temporal cortices involved in visual body processing. However, it is unclear whether these perceptual deficits involve more basic aspects of others' body perception. Method: A consecutive sample of 15 adolescent patients with AN were compared with a group of 15 age- and gender-matched controls in delayed matching to sample tasks requiring the visual discrimination of the form or of the action of others' body. Results: Patients showed better visual discrimination performance than controls in detail-based processing of body forms but not of body actions, which positively correlated with their increased tendency to convert a signal of punishment into a signal of reinforcement (higher persistence scores). Discussion: The paradoxical advantage of patients with AN in detail-based body processing may be associated to their tendency to routinely explore body parts as a consequence of their obsessive worries about body appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-511
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • anorexia nervosa
  • body perception
  • extrastriate body area
  • neuropsychology: eating disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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