Disturbance of body perception is a central aspect of anorexia nervosa (AN) and several neuroimaging studies have documented structural and functional alterations of occipito-temporal cortices involved in visual body processing. However, it is unclear whether these perceptual deficits involve more basic aspects of others' body perception.
A consecutive sample of 15 adolescent patients with AN were compared with a group of 15 age- and gender-matched controls in delayed matching to sample tasks requiring the visual discrimination of the form or of the action of others' body.
Patients showed better visual discrimination performance than controls in detail-based processing of body forms but not of body actions, which positively correlated with their increased tendency to convert a signal of punishment into a signal of reinforcement (higher persistence scores).
The paradoxical advantage of patients with AN in detail-based body processing may be associated to their tendency to routinely explore body parts as a consequence of their obsessive worries about body appearance. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)