Single Paper or Case Study

The “Not Me” Experience in Dissociative Identity Disorder: behavioral and Neuroimaging Evidence of a Missing Self Bias in Face Perception

Sunday, March 25
2:30 PM - 2:50 PM
Location: Logan

Failing to recognize one’s mirror image can signal an aberration in one’s sense of self.  In DID, individuals report that some of their own thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations feel as if they are “not me,” as if instead, they belong to someone else.  Consequently, their mirror image can feel unfamiliar.  To assess these experiences, we designed a novel backwards-masking paradigm in which participants were covertly shown their own face, masked by a stranger’s face (masks).  Participants rated feelings of familiarity associated with the masks.  21 control participants rated masks, which were covertly preceded by their own face, as more familiar compared to masks preceded by a stranger’s face.  That is, they demonstrated a self bias.  In contrast, across two samples, 29 individuals with DID did not show this self bias.  Additionally, individuals with higher self integration demonstrated a self bias, just like control participants, whereas individuals with lower integration scores did not. Preliminary neuroimaging findings suggest that higher integration was associated with increased activity in self-referential processing regions, and regions associated with the experience of a visceral sense of self. These data provide empirical evidence of aberrant self-referential processing in DID.

Learning Objectives:

Lauren A.M Lebois

Instructor in Psychiatry
McLean Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Belmont, Massachusetts

Dr. Lauren Lebois, PhD, is a cognitive neuroscientist examining the biomarkers of trauma-spectrum disorders as a research fellow in the laboratory of Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She is also the Director of Neuroimaging for Milissa Kaufman’s, M.D., Ph.D. Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Research Program. Dr. Lebois completed her doctoral training at Emory University. Currently, she employs brain imaging, genetic, and behavioral techniques to better understand the cognitive, affective, and biological mechanisms related to traumatic dissociation, PTSD dysfunction, and recovery. She has a particular interest in self-processing related to PTSD and DID. Overall the mission of the team is to contribute to the scientific examination of traumatic dissociation and PTSD in victims of childhood abuse, and in doing so reduce stigma and improve care for these individuals.

Presentation(s):

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