Neuroendocrinology of aggression

Brian C. Trainor, Randy J. Nelson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


This chapter explains how aggression is a social interaction to determine the outcome of a conflict over resources. Aggressive behaviors take many forms, despite evidence that the regulatory factors and brain mechanisms are conserved across vertebrate species. Castrated animals are expected to show reduced aggression levels, whereas castrated animals with testosterone replaced via an implant are expected to display aggression levels similar to those of intact animals. Androgens such as testosterone can be converted to estrogens by the aromatase enzyme, and many brain regions known to regulate aggression express aromatase. Thus, in some cases, the effects of testosterone on aggression may actually be mediated by estrogenic metabolites. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an endogenous steroid that circulates at relatively high concentrations among humans. Similar to androgens, the relationship between glucocorticoids and aggressive behaviors is complex. The neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin have complex effects on aggressive behaviors. Vasopressin neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and medial amygdala send projections to the lateral septum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Neuroendocrinology
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780123750976
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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