Altered Neural Pain Empathic Reactivity in NSSI Adolescents

University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (Other)
Overall Status
Not yet recruiting ID

Study Details

Study Description

Brief Summary

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is defined as direct, deliberate bodily harm without suicidal intention. In recent years, growing evidence suggests that NSSI has become a worldwide public health issue. People with NSSI behaviors, especially adolescents, commonly exhibit emotion-related and interpersonal problems. Pain empathy represents an essential basal domain of socio-emotional processing and refers to the ability to empathize, connect and share with others' pain. However, altered empathic processing has not been systematically examined in adolescents with NSSI. To this end, the current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study will recruit one group of NSSI adolescents (n=40) and one healthy control (HC) group (n=40), to compare their neural activity regarding pain empathy processing, which is measured by blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI. The investigators included conditions of physical pain empathy (stimuli depicting noxious stimulation to the limbs) and affective pain empathy (stimuli depicting faces expressing pain) as well as corresponding control stimuli. The investigators hypothesize that compared to HC, NSSI adolescents show increased empathic reactivity to physical pain stimuli in salience and arousal related brain regions but decreased empathic reactivity to affective pain empathic stimuli.

Condition or Disease Intervention/Treatment Phase

    Study Design

    Study Type:
    Anticipated Enrollment :
    80 participants
    Observational Model:
    Time Perspective:
    Official Title:
    Abnormal Neural Pain Empathic Processing in Adolescents With Non-suicidal Self-Injury
    Anticipated Study Start Date :
    Jul 1, 2023
    Anticipated Primary Completion Date :
    Jul 1, 2026
    Anticipated Study Completion Date :
    Jul 1, 2027

    Arms and Interventions

    Arm Intervention/Treatment


    Outcome Measures

    Primary Outcome Measures

    1. Neural activity as indexed by BOLD fMRI [About 8 minutes]

      Brain activity will be monitored by task-based fMRI. The paradigm will present affective and physical pain empathy pictures and matched control stimuli. Alterations in the patients will be determined by comparing neural activity to the experimental conditions between the experimental groups (NSSI vs. HC) using ANOVA models.

    Eligibility Criteria


    Ages Eligible for Study:
    15 Years to 18 Years
    Sexes Eligible for Study:
    Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
    Inclusion Criteria:
    • 15-18 years

    • right-handed

    • normal or corrected normal visual acuity

    • meet the proposed DSM-5 frequency criteria (e.g., ≥5 days of NSSI behaviors in the past year)

    Exclusion Criteria:
    • diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, other

    • psychiatric disorders, etc.

    • high suicidal risk

    • recent use of medications that can affect neural activity

    • have received or are receiving Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) other treatment for emotional problems within the past 6 months

    • have a contraindication to MRI scanning (e.g., metal implants, claustrophobia or other conditions that make them inappropriate for MRI scanning)

    Contacts and Locations


    No locations specified.

    Sponsors and Collaborators

    • University of Electronic Science and Technology of China


    None specified.

    Study Documents (Full-Text)

    None provided.

    More Information


    None provided.
    Responsible Party:
    Benjamin Becker, Professor, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China Identifier:
    Other Study ID Numbers:
    • BAM_lab_NSSI_02
    First Posted:
    Aug 1, 2023
    Last Update Posted:
    Aug 2, 2023
    Last Verified:
    Jul 1, 2023
    Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product:
    Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product:
    Additional relevant MeSH terms:

    Study Results

    No Results Posted as of Aug 2, 2023