Bullies' Brains: Hardwired to be Nasty?

Aggressive kids aroused at others in pain

By Michelle Wayland
|  Friday, Nov 7, 2008  |  Updated 12:24 PM PDT
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Bullies' Brains: Hardwired to be Nasty?

AP

Unusually aggressive people show more brain activity when they see others in pain.

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New research suggests bullies' brains may be hardwired to have sadistic tendencies, said researchers from the University of Chicago.

Brain scans of young, aggressive bullies suggest they may actually enjoy seeing others in pain, according to the new study. It showed increased activity in an area of the brain associated with rewards when aggressive boys watched a video clip of someone inflicting pain on another person. The control group did not have the same response.

Researchers expected the test subjects to be emotionally cold to the events, but instead they registered a high level of arousal. "This work will help us better understand ways to work with juveniles inclined to aggression and violence," lead researcher Jean Decety said.

The study is published in the journal Biological Psychology. The National Science Foundation supported the work.

Read the full story in the National Science Foundation article "Bullies May Enjoy Seeing Others in Pain."

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