• body dysmorphic disorder;
  • emotion recognition;
  • facial expression;
  • cognitive bias modification;
  • dermatological condition;
  • cognitive rehabilitation


Background: Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are characterized by excessive concerns about perceived defects or flaws in their appearance, most commonly, facial features. Previous research has shown that BDD sufferers, relative to mentally healthy controls, are characterized by emotion recognition deficits (particularly a bias to misinterpret neutral facial expressions in a negative way). It remains an open question though whether these deficits can be modified through specific training programs. Methods: To address this question, we evaluated emotion recognition among individuals with BDD (n = 34), individuals with a dermatological condition (n = 34), and mentally healthy control participants (n = 34) before and after a single-session emotion recognition training program. Results: As expected, BDD participants were overall significantly worse in identifying neutral expressions, relative to the other groups, whereas no difference was obtained between the dermatology and control groups. Further, with respect to neutral and scared expressions, BDD participants improved significantly more in the training condition, relative to the nontraining condition. Conclusion: There is initial evidence that deficits in recognizing neutral and scared expressions can be normalized through a specific training program when evaluated immediately after the training session. It needs to be addressed in future research whether emotion recognition training programs can diminish these deficits on the long term, and how improved emotion recognition might be related to BDD's symptom reduction such as decreased avoidance behaviors in social situations. Depression and Anxiety, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.