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date: 08 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Violence is a devastating social phenomenon that is costly both to affected individuals and to society at large. Pathological aggression, especially reactive/impulsive aggression, is a cardinal symptom common to several psychiatric disorders—including antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and psychopathy—that are associated with risk for violence. Thus, understanding the factors that predispose people to impulsive violence represents a crucial goal for psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Although we are far from a full understanding of the etiopathophysiology of violence, impulsive aggression is heritable, suggesting that genetic mechanisms may be important for determining individual variation in susceptibility. This chapter synthesizes available preclinical and human data to propose a compelling neurogenetic mechanism for violence, specifically arguing that a genetically determined excess in serotonin signaling during a critical developmental period leads to dysregulation within a key corticolimbic circuit for emotional arousal and regulation, inhibitory control, and social cognition.

Keywords: aggression, violence, serotonin, corticolimbic, amygdala, genetic, MAOA, 5-HTTLPR, tryptophan hydroxylase, 5-HT1b

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