. Scientific Frontline: How a feeling of satiety unconsciously controls body sensation

Monday, February 14, 2022

How a feeling of satiety unconsciously controls body sensation

Martin Diers let healthy women go through a door in a rich and hungry state.
Credit: LWL Clinic

Hungry - full! Thick or thin? Researchers at the Bochum University Hospital are studying the body structure of healthy women.

Whether looking at your own body in the mirror or classifying your body feeling when walking through a door - in people with an eating disorder, the body image and body scheme have been proven to be disturbed. For a study, a team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Martin Diers from the LWL University Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at RUB only healthy, normal weight test subjects run through a door, both hungry and saturated, thus demonstrating that hunger and satiety have an active influence on the body's scheme - the unconscious body feeling. For further research on eating disorders, it is important to consider body image and body scheme differently based on the mechanisms of action. In a specialist article in Scientific Reports, the scientists report on the results.

Body image and body scheme

"Get on the trail of the unconscious" - that's how Martin Diers describes, Psychologist and basic researcher in clinical and experimental behavioral medicine, his work around the study "Influencing the body schema through the feeling of satiety" (German: "The influence of the feeling of satiety on the body scheme"): “On the subject of body awareness, a number of studies regarding the body image can be referred to. However, there are very few studies on the body scheme. This is because tests for the body image are easier to carry out because the visualization or conscious perception of your own body is used as a methodology. The subconscious plays a crucial role in the body scheme. In order to obtain unadulterated results here, the participants must not be informed about the research goal, for example.”

For the study, the participants were invited to the experiments on a pretext using an invented story. To do this, they had to go through a test door on two days. The first time they were not allowed to eat anything for at least twelve hours beforehand, and the second time they had to appear saturated on the day of the experiment. Subsequently, specific questions were asked to ensure that the test subjects had not recorded the research goal in advance. In the negative case, these participants were then excluded.

You feel narrower hungry

The evaluations of the tests showed that the study participants felt wider in the saturated state and accordingly turned into wider door frames when they went through the door. Starved, they felt narrower and ran straight through the door even with narrower door widths. "Our research provides initial results that hunger and satiety have an active influence on the body's scheme or on the unconscious body feeling," says Diers. “This result has an impact on future therapies for eating disorders, in which, in addition to the body image, the body scheme and, in particular, the individual feeling of satiety for the development of healthy body awareness must be considered."

Original publication

Patricia Baumann, Nina Beckmann, Stephan Herpertz, Jörg Trojanl, Martin Diers: Influencing the body schema through the feeling of satiety, in: Scientific Reports, 2022,

Source/Credit: Ruhr University Bochum


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