serotonin and agression

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  • Serotonin
    • a neurotransmitter that carries electrical impulses around the brains network of neurons
    • acts as a chemical carrier, transferring messages across the synaptic gap
    • exerts a calming, inhibitory effect in neural firing in the brain
    • reduces aggressive behaviour by inhibiting responses to the electrical stimuli
    • lowered levels reduce this ability (serotonin deficiency hypothesis) and increases the incidence of impulsive behaviour
    • Raleigh et al
      • studied vervet monkeys and used diet to manipulate levels of serotonin in the brain
      • diets with high tryptophan exhibited lower aggression levels
      • suggests a difference in aggression could be linked to serotonin levels
      • methodological weakness- lacks validity
        • humans have high order thinking
          • can't generalise
    • Evaluation
      • There is research support for the role of serotonin in aggression
        • Duke et sl- meta analysis of 175 studies
          • found small inverse relationship between serotonin levels and anger
            • effect sizes tended to diminish over time
              • suggests that the relationship between serotonin and aggression is more complex than originally thought
      • A strength of this is that there has been evidence applied to the real life
        • Mann et al administered a drug which depleted serotonin to the brain to 35 healthy adults
          • used a questionnaire to assess hostility and aggression levels which rose as drug levels increased amongst males but not females
            • however, demonstrates beta bias- males and females may not be subject to the same physiological factors when explaining aggression


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