Biopsychology of Aggression: Summary
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Booij, L. et al. (2010) explored the biological and neurological roots of physical aggression in adult males. Sometimes considered as a purely psychological phenomenon, physical aggression does have its biological roots. According to Booij et al. (2010), adult males who are aggressive or impulsive also show low levels of serotonin transmission; however, it is still unclear whether low serotonin levels mediate aggressive behaviors or simply suggest the presence of special behavior traits in adults.
This being said, the researchers used positron emission tomography to compare the elements of serotonin transmission in two different groups of adult males (Booij et al., 2010). One group comprised adult males with the history of high levels of aggression during childhood, whereas another group was made of adult individuals with normal levels of childhood aggression (Booij et al., 2010). The researchers also measured differences in emotional intelligence and working memory, plasma tryptophan levels, psychosocial functioning, and family history of substance abuse and mood disorders (Booij et al., 2010). The results suggested that low levels of 5-HT serotonin could be the central mechanism of aggression and violence in males. However, aggressive behaviors in individuals with low serotonin levels may or may not be expressed, depending on the environmental factors influencing males during development (Booij et al., 2010).
The results of the study provide a unique opportunity to review the meaning of aggression and violence from a biological, not psychological, viewpoint. Actually, the very idea of the study reflects the existing nature versus nurture debate. I fully agree with the authors’ conclusion that both biological and environmental factors contribute to the development of aggressive and impulsive behaviors in humans (Booij et al., 2010). The implications of this research are far-reaching: even in the presence of certain behavioral problems or biological vulnerabilities, we can create an environment that helps to reduce the risks of aggression and violence.
Biopsychology of Anxiety: Summary
Numerous psychological strategies have been developed to help individuals cope with their anxiety. Counseling models and pharmacological treatment are widely available for everyone experiencing anxiety or depression. However, anxiety also has certain neurobiological correlates, which means that changes in the levels of various neurotransmitters can worsen or improve the mood state of individuals.
In their study, Reimold et al. (2008) analyzed the way changes in central serotonin transporter availability can affect anxiety and mood in adults. The goal of the study was to analyze how changes/reductions in central serotonin transporter (5-HTT) in the thalamus, midbrain, and amygdala of patients with major depression could cause anxiety and related mood disorders (Reimold et al., 2008). The sample included ten patients with diagnosed major depression and no history of drug dependence or abuse (Reimold et al., 2008). The control group included nineteen age-matched subjects (Reimold et al., 2008). The researchers used kinetic modeling, genotyping, and statistical analyses to measure changes in serotonin transporter availability in various brain areas (Reimold et al., 2008).
I suppose that the results of the study greatly contribute to the current understanding of anxiety and its biological/neurological roots. However, it seems that many of the things discussed in this study have already been known to the public. The major implication of the study results is that pharmacological treatment can help to reduce the scope of anxiety and other mood disorders, by changing the levels of serotonin transporter availability in the human brain. Unfortunately, the results do not provide any information to prevent the development of anxiety and mood disorders in humans. Therefore, prevention, not treatment, should become the focus of the future biopsychology research into anxiety and major depression. The results of the study should also be used to develop new treatment strategies for individuals with anxiety and similar mood disorders.