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SCIENCE BRIEFING

Bully's brain feels joy in others' pain

November 08, 2008|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying behavior suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain, researchers said Friday.

The researchers compared eight boys ages 16 to 18 with aggressive conduct disorder to a group of eight adolescent boys with no unusual signs, tracking brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

In the aggressive teens, areas of the brain linked with feeling rewarded -- the amygdala and ventral striatum -- became very active when they observed pain being inflicted on others, according to the study in the journal Biological Psychology.

They showed little activity in an area of the brain involved in self-regulation -- the medial prefrontal cortex and the temporoparietal junction -- as was seen in the control group.

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