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Discuss the role of neural and/or hormonal mechanisms in aggression

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Introduction

´╗┐Discuss the role of neural and/or hormonal mechanisms in aggression The role of hormonal mechanisms play a significant role in aggression as high levels of testosterone and low levels of cortisol have been proven to influence aggressive behaviour. Testosterone has been thought to act on areas of the brain which control aggression from young childhood onwards because it lowers serotonin in the brain which leads to aggression as serotonin inhabits responses to environmental stimuli. Lindman et al (1987) found aggressive behaviour in drunken males positively correlated with testosterone levels. Cortisol is the other hormonal mechanism which inhibits other hormones such as testosterone. High levels of this are positive sign for the human body as it in effectively causes a reduction in aggression. However low levels are associated with increased aggression, Vikuuen (1985) found low levels of cortisol in habitual violent offenders. As well as Hormonal mechanisms there are neural mechanisms that are associated with aggression. Low levels of serotonin are associated with increased susceptibility to impulse behaviour, aggression and violent suicide. ...read more.

Middle

The other monkeys in the experiment were fed on diets of low levels of tryptophan and exhibited increased levels of aggression. This supports the role of serotonin on aggression because it shows the lower levels of serotonin are correlated with higher levels of aggression. Further support comes from Screbo and Raine (1993), who did a meta-analysis of 29 studies. They examined neurotransmitter levels in antisocial children and adults. They found that lower levels of serotonin in individuals who were described as aggressive. This suggests that serotonin depletion leads to impulse behaviour, which can lead to aggressive behaviour, therefore supporting the link between serotonin levels and aggression. A critique of neural mechanisms as an explanation of aggression could be that it raises issues of extrapolation due to non-human animals used in experiments such as the findings on serotonin replicated in vervet monkeys. Can the findings really be generalised to humans? The nature and mentality of animals is much different to humans. Also this study faces ethical issues as the vervet monkeys faced irreversible mental changes that could have been avoided if the experiment was not conducted. ...read more.

Conclusion

Studies have proven that not just negative factors come from high levels of testosterone; Huston found that men with high levels of testosterone perform well on competitive tasks and low on co-operative tasks. However it is predicted that these sorts of males are also likely to take part in anti-social behaviour in order to be more dominating not aggressive. Gender bias in this biological approach is evident as most research is done on males, both humans and non-humans. This leaves the question of ?is there no relationship between levels of testosterone and aggression in women? unanswered. Clearly a very important and useful area of bio-psychological research is associated with many anti-social acts in society such as numerous forms of crime including violence. If the role of biochemistry can be understood it can perhaps be treated or managed. However, it is unethical to give drugs to humans to simply alleviate aggression as this debatably could lead to social control. In conclusion there is a possibility this could be treated more ethically through diet and exercise which acts on neural mechanisms. ...read more.

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