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Neurobiological correlates of aggression

Enviromental and psychological factors influencing aggressive behavior have been studied for several centuries. However, only in the past three decades neurobiologic factors that modulate impulsive aggression have been examined. Several lines of evidence establish a relevance of central meurotransmission to aggressive and impulsive behavior. For example, evidence coming from extensive research in humans and in animals, points to a strong relationship between serotonergic dysfunction and aggression. Increased catecholaminergic activity also appears to play a role in the manifestation of aggressive behaviour. Other neurobiologic systems like arginine or vasopressin may influence impulsive aggression. There have been few studies indicating that interactions between neurobiologic systems such as testosterone and serotonin may have a significant effect on aggressive and violent behavior. Today, it becomes clear that genetic factors predisposing to aggressive and violent behavior do exist. Family, adoption and twin studies suggestthat manifestation of aggression requires the presence of both genetic and enviromental factors. Genetic research on violence provides promises and continues to examine specific molecular genetic markers and thei association phenotypes.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lykouras, L. Neurobiological correlates of aggression. Ann Gen Psychiatry 5 (Suppl 1), S60 (2006).

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