Bullying victimization in typically developing and clinical high risk (CHR) adolescents: A multimodal imaging study

Teresa Vargas*, Katherine S.F. Damme, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Bullying has been shown to increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder. To date, no studies have examined brain behavior relationships within the context of bullying victimization in clinical high-risk (CHR) youth, a group characterized by both gray and white matter abnormalities. The present study employed multimodal neuroimaging to examine possible neural mechanisms associated with bullying victimization. Methods: CHR and healthy volunteers underwent clinical interviews, parent reports and MRI scans. Regions of interest (ROIs) were picked based on sensitivity to environmental stress, including hippocampal, amygdala, and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) structural ROIs, and uncinate fasciculus white matter integrity. Results: CHR individuals were more exposed to bullying victimization than healthy volunteers, and bullying was associated with depressive symptoms across the whole sample. CHR individuals exhibited smaller volumes in OFC, but not in other ROIs. Increased bullying exposure was associated with lower medial OFC volumes in CHR and HV groups independently. Results ought to be interpreted as preliminary, as they did not survive correction at the whole brain level. Discussion: Bullying victimization may affect or be affected by volumetric OFC differences in both healthy and CHR individuals. However, given CHR showed greater exposure to bullying as well as underlying vulnerability (e.g. lower volumes), results also point to etiological clues and novel intervention targets, though future replication is needed in better powered samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Bullying
  • Clinical high risk
  • DTI
  • MRI
  • Orbital frontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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