Bullying alters brain structure, raises risk of mental health problems

By Chiara Townley

New research is suggesting that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly bullied.

The study confirms the results of previous research that linked bullying with mental health issues — but it also revealed something new.

Bullying may decrease the volume of parts of the brain called the caudate and putamen.

The caudate plays a crucial role in how the brain learns — specifically how it process memories. This part of the brain uses information from past experiences to influence future actions and decisions. The putamen regulates movements and affects learning.

The authors say that the physical changes in the brains of adolescents who were constantly bullied partly explain the relationship between peer victimization and high anxiety levels at the age of 19.

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