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Chronic peer victimization heightens neural sensitivity to risk taking

  • Eva H. Telzer (a1), Michelle E. Miernicki (a2) and Karen D. Rudolph (a2)


Although behavioral and experimental studies have shown links between victimization and antisocial behavior, the neural correlates explaining this link are relatively unknown. In the current study, we recruited adolescent girls from a longitudinal study that tracked youths’ reports of peer victimization experiences annually from the second through eighth grades. Based on these reports, 46 adolescents were recruited: 25 chronically victimized and 21 nonvictimized. During a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, participants completed a risk-taking task. Chronic peer victimization was associated with greater risk-taking behavior during the task and higher levels of self-reported antisocial behavior in everyday life. At the neural level, chronically victimized girls showed greater activation in regions involved in affective sensitivity, social cognition, and cognitive control, which significantly mediated victimization group differences in self-reported antisocial behavior.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eva H. Telzer, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 235 East Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270; E-mail:


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This work was supported by a University of Illinois Research Board Award and National Institute of Mental Health Grants MH68444 (to K.D.R.) and MH105655 (to K.D.R. and E.H.T.). We thank the families and schools who participated in this study. We are grateful to Jamie Abaied, Monica Agoston, Samirah Ali, Suravi Changlani, Megan Flynn, Inge Karosevica, Nicole Llewellyn, Jennifer Monti, Heather Ross, and Niwako Sugimura for their assistance in data collection and management.



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