Cortical thickness and brain volumetric analysis in body dysmorphic disorder

Sarah K. Madsen, Alex Zai, Tara Pirnia, Donatello Arienzo, Liang Zhan, Teena D. Moody, Paul M. Thompson, Jamie D. Feusner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) suffer from preoccupations with perceived defects in physical appearance, causing severe distress and disability. Although BDD affects 1-2% of the population, the neurobiology is not understood. Discrepant results in previous volumetric studies may be due to small sample sizes, and no study has investigated cortical thickness in BDD. The current study is the largest neuroimaging analysis of BDD. Participants included 49 medication-free, right-handed individuals with DSM-IV BDD and 44 healthy controls matched by age, sex, and education. Using high-resolution T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, we computed vertex-wise gray matter (GM) thickness on the cortical surface and GM volume using voxel-based morphometry. We also computed volumes in cortical and subcortical regions of interest. In addition to group comparisons, we investigated associations with symptom severity, insight, and anxiety within the BDD group. In BDD, greater anxiety was significantly associated with thinner GM in the left superior temporal cortex and greater GM volume in the right caudate nucleus. There were no significant differences in cortical thickness, GM volume, or volumes in regions of interest between BDD and control subjects. Subtle associations with clinical symptoms may characterize brain morphometric patterns in BDD, rather than large group differences in brain structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 30 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Cortical thickness
  • Gray matter
  • MRI
  • Volume
  • Voxel-based morphometry


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