Researchers from the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre (BPsyC) at Swinburne University of Technology are currently running a clinical trial looking for abnormalities in the brains of people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
BDD is a severe mental disorder where the main symptom is an excessive fear of looking ugly or disfigured, despite having a normal appearance. BDD reportedly affects around five times more of the population than other body images disorders like anorexia, however it has received remarkably little research attention.
Professor Susan Rossell’s team at BPsyC have been completing world leading research into the neurobiology of BDD for a decade. Their new project, running as a part of BPsyC student Sally Grace’s PhD thesis, and involves a comprehensive look at possible neurobiological, cognitive and sensory origins of the disorder.
The research is particularly interesting as it involves a clinical trial investigating how the neurotransmitter oxytocin, a hormone that is most commonly known for its role in social attachment and pair bonding, is involved in social cognition in BDD, through examining brain connectivity and function in the disorder. Different magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, including structural, functional and diffusion weighted MRI, will be used to delineate possible abnormalities in brain structure and function of those with the disorder.