serotonin and aggressive behavior

Leslie Packer lpacker at nyc.pipeline.com
Fri Feb 16 19:13:18 EST 1996


Alan, 
 
Good post, but I think that Tara (and all of us) would do well to remember
that aggression or aggressive behavior is not a unitary concept, and
indeed, most theories of aggression distinguish among different types of
aggression.  Therefore, it is possible that serotonin might be implicated
in some types of aggressive behavior and not others. 
 
On Feb 15, 1996 10:48:01 in article <Re: serotonin and aggressive
behavior>, '"Alan J. Robinson" <robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu>' wrote: 
 
 
>On Tue, 13 Feb 1996 14:27:20 GMT,  
>Tara L. Plummer  <plummert at river.it.gvsu.edu > wrote: 
> 
>>I was wondering if anyone had any information on serotonin and the
effects it  
> 
>>has on behavior, namely aggressive behavior.  It can be related to the
human  
>>or any other species. 
> 
>Tara: 
> 
>The Jan 19 issue of Science has several articles on serotonin and  
>social status in animals, which is related to agressive behavior. 
> 
>It has also been known for a long time that violent suicidal death is  
>marked by lowered 5-HIAA (a metabolite of serotonin) in the CSF. 
> 
>Serotonin, along with the other monoamines dopamine and  
>norepinephrine, plays a pivotal role in Cloninger's biosocial model  
>of the brain.  He relates the behavioral variations to differences in  
>base neural firing rates, rather than to synaptic levels. 
> 
>Though Cloninger doesn't fully elaborate on the behavioral  
>consequences, the combination of high novelty seeking (dopamine) and  
>low harm avoidance (serotonin) would appear to be associated with high  
>social dominance and its associated aggressive behavior in humans.   
>When combined with low reward maintenance (norepinephrine) the stage  
>is set for extremely violent behavior such as serial killing and  
>torture. 
> 
>The whole question of social dominance in various animal species is a  
>very interesting and fundamental one as it appears throughout the  
>animal kingdom - insects, birds, reptiles, mammals etc.  It's not  
>entirely clear what adaptive purpose it serves and why it is even  
>present - it would seem that a natural consequence of dominance would  
>be the total spread of genes for social dominance throughout the  
>population by means of preferential mating.  (Not survival of the  
>fittest, but survival of the most ruthless). 
> 
>The trait of high social dominance is also responsible for many of the  
>ills of human society through social stratification and associated  
>abusive and exploitive behavior. 
> 
>AJR 
>



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