Listening to your heartbeat could tell you if you are susceptible to conditions such as anorexia, scientists claim.
A study of healthy women, aged between 19 and 26, showed that by concentrating and counting their heart beats they were able to listen to their bodies.
The more accurate their perception of their heartbeat the less likely they were to think of their bodies as objects, say the team from Royal Holloway.
Scientists suggested that those who struggled to count their heartbeats were more likely to 'objectify' their bodies and value them less from within
The authors say that the findings "have important implications for understanding body image dissatisfaction and clinical disorders which are linked to self-objectification, such as anorexia".
Dr Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said: 'People have the remarkable ability to perceive themselves from the perspective of an outside observer.
'However, there is a danger that some women can develop an excessive tendency to regard their bodies as 'objects', while neglecting to value them from within, for their physical competence and health.
'Women who 'self-objectify', in this way, are vulnerable to eating disorders and a range of other clinical conditions such as depression and sexual dysfunction.'
Fellow researcher Vivien Ainley from Royal Holloway said: 'We believe that our measure of body awareness, which assesses how well women are able to listen to their internal signals, will prove a valuable addition to research into self-objectification and women's resulting mental health.'
Just last month a study discovered that people with eating disorders often thought they were bigger than they were due to a 'connection error' in the brain.
This spurred them to try and keep their weight as low as possible by restricting their diet or exercising excessively.
Heartbeat: 'We believe that our measure of body awareness... will prove a valuable addition to research into self-objectification and women's resulting mental health'
Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany studied the network of brain regions that become active when people see pictures of bodies.
They asked ten anorexic and fifteen healthy women of a similar age to judge on a computer which of several different silhouettes corresponded best to their own body shape. Ten control subjects who did not participate in the MRI scan answered the same question by matching a photo of the test subject to the right silhouette.
Scientist found that while healthy subjects rated themselves as thinner than the control subjects, those with the eating disorder perceived themselves to be fatter than the control subjects did.
The team then recorded the brain activity of the 25 participants using MRI scanners, while they observed photos of bodies.
They analysed the activity in the 'fusiform body area' (FBA) and the 'extrastriate body area' (EBA) in the left hemisphere of the brain.
Previous studies have shown that these brain regions are critical for how people process images of bodies.
They found the connection between the two regions, which process body images was weaker among anorexic women than in healthy women.
The study was published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2274483/How-listening-heartbeat-tell-youre-susceptible-anorexia.html#ixzz2KEZicWvg
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