Cognitive dysfunction in body dysmorphic disorder: new implications for nosological systems and neurobiological models

Kiri Jefferies-Sewell, Samuel R Chamberlain, Naomi A Fineberg, Keith R Laws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a debilitating disorder, characterized by obsessions and compulsions relating specifically to perceived appearance, and which has been newly classified within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders grouping. Until now, little research has been conducted into the cognitive profile of this disorder.METHODS: Participants with BDD (n=12) and participants without BDD (n=16) were tested using a computerized neurocognitive battery investigating attentional set-shifting (Intra/Extra Dimensional Set Shift Task), decision-making (Cambridge Gamble Task), motor response-inhibition (Stop-Signal Reaction Time Task), and affective processing (Affective Go-No Go Task). The groups were matched for age, IQ, and education.RESULTS: In comparison to controls, patients with BDD showed significantly impaired attentional set-shifting, abnormal decision-making, impaired response inhibition, and greater omission and commission errors on the emotional processing task.CONCLUSION: Despite the modest sample size, our results showed that individuals with BDD performed poorly compared to healthy controls on tests of cognitive flexibility, reward and motor impulsivity, and affective processing. Results from separate studies in OCD patients suggest similar cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, these findings are consistent with the reclassification of BDD alongside OCD. These data also hint at additional areas of decision-making abnormalities that might contribute specifically to the psychopathology of BDD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017


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