Impaired body but not face perception in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder


Professor Jun Soo Kwon, Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yeongon-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea (e-mail:


Background. Empirical evidence involving the processing of social information by patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) has been relatively scarce. Our study investigated the perceptual abilities of patients with OCD to recognize human faces and bodies.

Method. Fifty-four drug-free or drug-naïve patients with OCD and 42 healthy controls performed discrimination tasks consisting of four types of stimuli: two sets of faces that were manipulated with regard to configuration and features, human bodies, and chairs. The stimuli were presented in upright and upside-down orientations.

Results. Patients with OCD were significantly less accurate in discriminating pairs of bodily postures implying actions. However, we found no significant differences between patient and control groups in the ability to recognize faces and chairs. The inversion effects for bodies and faces were also comparable between the two groups.

Conclusions. The current findings suggest that patients with OCD experience difficulty in perceiving static forms of bodily postures, but are able to adequately recognize human faces. Our data indicate a selective deficit in the perception of bodily postures in those with OCD and suggest that this deficit is probably not related to the abnormal configurational processing of social objects.