Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Characteristics of memory dysfunction in body dysmorphic disorder


THILO  DECKERSBACH a1, CARY R.  SAVAGE a1c1, KATHARINE A.  PHILLIPS a2, SABINE  WILHELM a1, ULRIKE  BUHLMANN a1, SCOTT L.  RAUCH a1, LEE  BAER a1 and MICHAEL A.  JENIKE a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
a2 Butler Hospital and Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University School of Medicine

Abstract

Although body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is receiving increasing empirical attention, very little is known about neuropsychological deficits in this disorder. The current study investigated the nature of memory dysfunction in BDD, including the relationship between encoding strategies and verbal and nonverbal memory performance. We evaluated 17 patients with BDD and 17 healthy controls using the Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (RCFT) and the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT). BDD patients differed significantly from healthy controls on verbal and nonverbal learning and memory indices. Multiple regression analyses revealed that group differences in free recall were statistically mediated by deficits in organizational strategies in the BDD cohort. These findings are similar to patterns previously observed in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), suggesting a potential relationship between OCD and BDD. Studies in both groups have shown that verbal and nonverbal memory deficits are affected by impaired strategic processing. (JINS, 2000, 6, 673–681.)

(Received April 12 1999)
(Revised September 17 1999)
(Accepted September 23 1999)


Key Words: Body dysmorphic disorder; Dysmorphophobia; Neuropsychology; Executive functioning; Memory.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: Cary Savage, Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Department of Psychiatry, 149-9102, Massachusetts General Hospital, Bldg 149, 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129. E-mail: savage@psych.mgh.harvard.edu