Abstract and Keywords
Aggression is a behavior with evolutionary origins, but in today’s society it’s often both destructive and maladaptive. The fact that aggression has a strong basis in biological factors has long been apparent from case histories of traumatic brain damage. Research over the past several decades has confirmed the involvement of neurotransmitter function and abnormalities in brain structure and function in aggressive behavior. This research has centered around the “serotonin hypothesis” and on dysfunction in prefrontal brain regions. As this literature continues to grow, guided by preclinical research and aided by the application of increasingly sophisticated neuroimaging methodology, a more complex picture has emerged, implicating diverse neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems (e.g., glutamate, vasopressin, and oxytocin) and neural circuits. As the current pharmacological and therapeutic interventions are effective but imperfect, it is hoped that new insights into the neurobiology of aggression will reveal novel avenues for treatment of this destructive and costly behavior.
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