Body size and shape misperception and visual adaptation: an overview of an emerging research paradigm

Kirsten L. Challinor, Jonathan Mond, Ian D. Stephen, Deborah Mitchison, Richard J. Stevenson, Phillipa Hay, Kevin R. Brooks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Although body size and shape misperception (BSSM) is a common feature of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia, little is known about its underlying neural mechanisms. Recently, a new approach has emerged, based on the long-established non-invasive technique of perceptual adaptation, which allows for inferences about the structure of the neural apparatus responsible for alterations in visual appearance. Here, we describe several recent experimental examples of BSSM, wherein exposure to “extreme” body stimuli causes visual aftereffects of biased perception. The implications of these studies for our understanding of the neural and cognitive representation of human bodies, along with their implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2001-2008
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of International Medical Research
Issue number6
Early online date27 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • body image
  • adaptation
  • distortion
  • vision
  • eating disorders
  • muscle dysmorphia
  • misperception

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