Neural adaptation to thin and fat bodies in the fusiform body area and middle occipital gyrus: An fMRI adaptation study



Visual perception can be strongly biased due to exposure to specific stimuli in the environment, often causing neural adaptation and visual aftereffects. In this study, we investigated whether adaptation to certain body shapes biases the perception of the own body shape. Furthermore, we aimed to evoke neural adaptation to certain body shapes. Participants completed a behavioral experiment (n = 14) to rate manipulated pictures of their own bodies after adaptation to demonstratively thin or fat pictures of their own bodies. The same stimuli were used in a second experiment (n = 16) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) adaptation. In the behavioral experiment, after adapting to a thin picture of the own body participants also judged a thinner than actual body picture to be the most realistic and vice versa, resembling a typical aftereffect. The fusiform body area (FBA) and the right middle occipital gyrus (rMOG) show neural adaptation to specific body shapes while the extrastriate body area (EBA) bilaterally does not. The rMOG cluster is highly selective for bodies and perhaps body parts. The findings of the behavioral experiment support the existence of a perceptual body shape aftereffect, resulting from a specific adaptation to thin and fat pictures of one's own body. The fMRI results imply that body shape adaptation occurs in the FBA and the rMOG. The role of the EBA in body shape processing remains unclear. The results are also discussed in the light of clinical body image disturbances. Hum Brain Mapp 34:3233–3246, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.