Illusory obesity triggers body dissatisfaction responses in the insula and anterior cingulate cortex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In today’s Western society, concerns regarding body size and negative feelings towards one’s body are all too common. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying negative feelings towards the body and how they relate to body perception and eating-disorder pathology. Here, we used multisensory illusions to elicit illusory ownership of obese and slim bodies during functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results implicate the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex in the development of negative feelings towards the body through functional interactions with the posterior parietal cortex, which mediates perceived obesity. Moreover, cingulate neural responses were modulated by non-clinical eating-disorder psychopathology and were attenuated in females. These results reveal how perceptual and affective body representations interact in the human brain and may help explain the neurobiological underpinnings of eating-disorder vulnerability in women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4450-4460
Number of pages11
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number12
Early online date12 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • Body perception
  • Body satisfaction
  • Emotion
  • Fmri
  • Multisensory body illusions
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Touch Perception/physiology
  • Male
  • Obesity/physiopathology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders/physiopathology
  • Illusions/physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Body Image/psychology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Adult
  • Female

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