Studies are showing children and teens who face chronic bullying have altered brain structure, as well as problems with anxiety and depression. Researchers found those who were bullies themselves, had structural changes to the putamen and caudate regions of the brain. In both of these user groups, these structural changes contributed to the development of anxiety related behaviors and emotional processing.
EEG neurofeedback can survey the structures of the brain that are affected by bullying and monitor progress of rebuilding those areas whether by EEG or by some other means like diet, exercise, or medicines.
682 participants from England, Ireland, France, and Germany were among a group surveyed. These participants were part of the IMAGEN long-term project that assessed the brain development and mental health of adolescents. As part of this project, high resolution brain scans of participants were taken when they were 14 and 19 years old.
At the ages of 14, 16 and 19 these participants also had to complete questionnaires about whether they had been bullied, and to what extent. Overall, the results showed that 36 of the 682 young people were found to have experienced chronic bullying. The data of these participants were compared with those of the others who had experienced less chronic/severe bullying. Changes in brain volume as well as the levels of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity at age 19 were taken into account.
Burke Quinlan, the leader of the research, emphasizes that adolescence is not only a time of new experiences and stresses, but also a period of extensive brain development. Therefore, she recommends that every effort should be made to limit bullying before it becomes a severe problem that might lead to changes in a young person’s brain and the development of mental health issues.
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