"It is therefore possible that the reduced insula response in psoriasis patients is associated with reduced empathy for disgust, perhaps resulting from desensitization," they wrote. However, they noted that they found no abnormal responses in other areas of the brain that are involved in empathy.
The researchers cautioned that the study was small and only included men, so the results could not be extrapolated to women.
"This first application of fMRI to abnormalities of emotional processing in chronic skin disease suggests that it may provide previously unreported insights into the brain–skin axis. Such insights could generate new strategies for managing stigmatizing skin diseases," the researchers concluded.