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TP Lehnen/Wachtler: Perception in Bodily Distress Disorders

PhD student Lena Schröder:

“Patients with Bodily Distress Disorder suffer from physical symptoms that cannot be sufficiently explained by organic dysfunction. Until today, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that cause these, so called functional, symptoms. However, recent efforts understand functional symptoms as a result of erroneous sensory processing, that establishes in early perceptual stages in the central nervous system.

Within my PhD, I aim to acquire a better understanding of the perceptual processes in Bodily Distress on the example of patients with functional dizziness. For this, we first plan to study the interplay between bottom-up sensory input and top-down expectations in a head motor control task using different behavioral measurements like eye and head movement recordings as well as computational modelling. Further projects will address perception outside of the deficient vestibular modularity, for example in time perception, as well as perceptual metacognition.

We are interested in the mechanisms underlying functional symptoms, i.e. bodily complaints that greatly impact functioning, and quality of life, but are insufficiently explained by organic disease.

Using combined computational-experimental approaches we recently could, for the first time, provide evidence for the notion that dysfunctions in the CNS interaction between sensory input and expectations about the sensory consequences of one’s own actions play a role in the emergence and manifestation of these symptoms."