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Biological Approaches to Aggression

Does exposure to aggressive behavior during pregnancy change social behavior of adult offspring?
Kathryn L. Hood, Douglas A. Granger, Eric N. Sergeant
(Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA)
Gilbert Gottlieb (Center for Developmental Science, Chapel Hill, NC)
Prenatal environments that include aggressive behavior may have effects on social behaviors of adult offspring. We bred 90 female ICR mice and assigned half to a high-stress condition (an aggressive male was introduced on days 15 - 18 of pregnancy). Low-stress groups were undisturbed. Male subjects (N = 111) were assessed for aggressive and social behavior in a dyadic test at postnatal day 45. Findings (now in progress) will be discussed.(back to top)

Experimental approach to the study of learned aggression
N. Kudryavtseva (Institute of Cytology and Genetics SDRAS, Novosibirsk, Russia)
The formation of the aggressive type of behavior in male mice following repeated victories in daily agonistic confrontations sets up promising conditions for studying the mechanisms of learned aggression. It has been shown that the repeated positive fighting experience changes many items of individual and social behavior in winners. Chronic experience of aggression changes brain monoaminergic activities (metabolism, receptors). Application of sensory contact technique for study on the behavioral, physiological and neurochemical mechanisms of learned aggression will be considered.(back to top)

Facilitating effects of corticosterone on brain mechanisms involved in violent behavior: Single and repeated treatments
Jozsef Haller (Institute of Experimental Medicine, Budapest, Hungary)
Menno Kruk (Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, The Netherlands)
Results: (1) activation of the hypothalamic attack area by itself is sufficient to elicit high stress levels of corticosterone, even in the absence of an opponent; (2) similar increases of plasma corticosterone produce a rapid onset, short lasting facilitation of hypothalamic attacks in adrenalectomized rats; (3) corticosterone facilitates the initial expression of hypothalamically-elicited attack behaviour in naive rats. (4) repeated dissociation or association of acute corticosterone increases with attack induce long-lasting changes in hypothalamic attack.(back to top)

Serotonin and aggression in children
John Constantino (Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO)
Dennis Murphy (NIMH, Bethesda, MD)
Numerous studies have demonstrated associations between hostile-aggressive behavior and low CSF levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-HIAA.  We conducted a prospective longitudinal study of 193 neurologically normal human newborns whose CSF 5-HIAA was obtained during the first three months of life.  5-HIAA was weakly inversely correlated with family history of antisocial personality disorder (r= -.12; p<.05) and was a very modest predictor of externalizing behavior at 2.5 years follow-up (r= -.16).(back to top)

Experimental investigation of the serotonin hypothesis of aggressive behavior
Michael McCloskey, Mitchell Berman, Pamela Posey, and Virginia Crawford
(University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS)
Emil Coccaro  (Medical College of Pennsylvania, Hahnemann University Medical School, Philadelphia, PA)
Data from the second year of a five-year NIMH-funded study designed to address the "serotonergic (5-HT) hypothesis" of aggression will be presented. 5-HT functioning will be manipulated using paroxetine. Aggressive behavior will then be observed under controlled laboratory conditions. It is expected that raising 5-HT levels will result in lower levels of aggressive behavior. If so, this would provide evidence for a causal link between 5-HT activity and human aggression .(back to top)