According to the team, this is the first study that clearly shows how visual signals containing information about the body's internal organs (in this case, the heartbeat) can change their perception of themselves. "It confirms that the brain is able to integrate visual information with cardiac information," says Aspell. "It seems that the brain is very sensitive to patterns in the world which may relate to self – when the flashing was synchronous with the heartbeat this caused changes to subjects' self-perception." The research could help people with distorted views of themselves to connect with their actual physical appearance. "Patients with anorexia seem to identify with a body which is larger than their physical body," Aspell tells us. "We could use this manipulation to help patients with anorexia to identify with their actual physical self." Aspell is currently studying "yo-yo" dieters and says she plans to continue investigating "how the internal body shapes who we are." The Swiss National Science Foundation and the Fondation Bertarelli supported the study which is slated for publication in the APS journal Psychological Science.