Neural Mechanisms in Aggression

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  • Created on: 13-06-22 11:55
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  • Neural Mechanisms in Aggression
    • The limbic system
      • a set of brain structures that helps to coordinate many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival such as fear and aggression
      • The amygdala
        • an important function in aggression as it quickly evaluates the importance of sensory information and promoting an appropriate response
        • In humans, Narabyashi et al (1972) found 43/51 patients whose amygdala was destroyed through psychosurgery showed reduced aggression afterwards.
      • The hippocampus
        • involved with the formation of long-term memories and allows an animal to compare the conditions of a present threat with similar past experiences.
        • Impaired hippocampal functioning may cause the amygdala to respond inappropriately to sensory stimuli, resulting in aggressive behaviour, as it prevents the nervous system from putting events into a meaningful context.
    • Serotonin
      • Normal levels of serotonin have a calming, inhibitory effect on neuronal firing in the brain as it inhibits responses to emotional stimuli which make us angry
        • Low levels, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, remove this inhibitory effect.
          • Individuals are then less able to control impulsive and aggressive responses, this is known as the serotonin deficiency hypothesis.
      • P - In a study of violent offenders, Raine et al (2004) provided support for the role of the hippocampus in aggressive behaviour.
        • E - Left and right hippocampal volumes were compared between successful and unsuccessful psychopaths and were assessed using MRI.
          • E - They found asymmetries in the hippocampus in the group of unsuccessful psychopaths.
            • L - This means that this asymmetry might impair the ability of the hippocampus and amygdala to work together so that emotional information is not processed correctly leading to inappropriate responses such as aggression.
      • P - A practical application of research into neural explanations of aggression is the use of medication.
        • E - The use of drugs that increase serotonin activities also reduces levels of aggressive behaviour.
          • E - Drugs to raise serotonin levels, such as tryptophan have been given to juvenile delinquents and unpredictable institutionalised patients with successful outcomes.
            • L - This adds value to the research as it brings scientists one step closer to possibly preventing violent tendencies in susceptible individuals.
      • P - An issue with neural explanations of aggression is that it is correlational
        • E - This is an issue because there is no clear way to show cause and effect.
          • E - his is an issue because there is no clear way to show cause and effect.
            • L - This matters because it highlights the complexity of the relationship between biology and behaviour and suggests that further investigation is required.
      • P - Neural  mechanisms do not account for social and environmental factors that influence aggression.
        • E - The social learning explanation suggests that aggression is learned from role models in the environment.
          • E - For example, Bandura et al (1961) found the children who had observed the adult being rewarded behaved most aggressively and those who had observed the adult being told off behaved least aggressively
            • L - This means that neural explanations of aggression are limited and do not provide a complete explanation for aggression.


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