Links for Keyword: Aggression

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By Gary Stix What was up with a world leader who thought he could control the weather while engaging in his passion for Elizabeth Taylor movies? No one knows for sure, but a few years ago, two psychologists took a crack at a long-distance analysis. In the September 2009 edition of Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression (Editor’s note: nice journal name), Frederick L. Coolidge and Daniel L. Segal tried to develop a psychological profile of the “Dear Leader” (in 1992 changed to “Dear Father”). Coolidge had developed a means of psychological evaluation using “informants,” people who knew or had historical or other expertise about a person. This test had been used previously to assess Hitler and Saddam Hussein and had been found to have a high-level of statistical reliability. The two psychologists used the test with a South Korean psychiatrist who was an expert on Kim Jong-il. The results showed that Kim Jong-il had an identical overall statistical measure with Hitler and Saddam on 14 personality disorders (r=7.6). (The top six of the 14 are: sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal.). Additional analysis showed that Dear Father was more like Saddam than Der Fuhrer. All three also showed evidence of psychotic thinking. Coolidge and Segal make recommendations about how to engage in diplomatic talks with someone with this type of personality. “In negotiations with Kim Jong-il over nuclear weapons, he might trust higher-level government officials more than lower ones,” they write. “Perhaps, more reflective of Kim Jong-il’s narcissistic traits, he initially balked over six-country negotiations, demanding to meet with the United States only. It would be predicted that secondary or lower level emissaries might have immediately been at a disadvantage.” © 2011 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16168 - Posted: 12.20.2011

By Laura Sanders Brain differences might help explain psychopaths’ cold, calculated and often antisocial behavior, and perhaps even point out better ways to treat or prevent the disorder, a study of Wisconsin prison inmates suggests. Compared with a group of 13 non-psychopathic criminals, a group of 14 psychopaths had weaker connections between an area near the front of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, or vmPFC, and the amygdala, a pair of almond-shaped structures deep in the brain. Earlier studies have hinted that this particular link is important for emotional regulation and aggression. Neuroscientist Michael Koenigs of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and colleagues discovered the weaker connection by taking a mobile brain scanner to a medium-security prison. Psychopaths are overrepresented in prison populations thanks to their lack of empathy and tendency toward antisocial behavior. After interviewing inmates and scrutinizing their disciplinary records to determine whether they were psychopaths, the scientists conducted two kinds of brain scans. The first measured the strength of brain connections called white matter tracts, which are bundles of nerves that serve as information superhighways that shuttle information between different brain regions. It was those scans that revealed the weaker link between the vmPFC and the amygdala in psychopaths, the team reports November 30 in the Journal of Neuroscience. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16096 - Posted: 12.01.2011

By CARL ZIMMER CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Steven Pinker was a 15-year-old anarchist. He didn’t think people needed a police force to keep the peace. Governments caused the very problems they were supposed to solve. Besides, it was 1969, said Dr. Pinker, who is now a 57-year-old psychologist at Harvard. “If you weren’t an anarchist,” he said, “you couldn’t get a date.” At the dinner table, he argued with his parents about human nature. “They said, ‘What would happen if there were no police?’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘What would we do? Would we rob banks? Of course not. Police make no difference.’ ” This was in Montreal, “a city that prided itself on civility and low rates of crime,” he said. Then, on Oct. 17, 1969, police officers and firefighters went on strike, and he had a chance to test his first hypothesis about human nature. “All hell broke loose,” Dr. Pinker recalled. “Within a few hours there was looting. There were riots. There was arson. There were two murders. And this was in the morning that they called the strike.” The ’60s changed the lives of many people and, in Dr. Pinker’s case, left him deeply curious about how humans work. That curiosity turned into a career as a leading expert on language, and then as a leading advocate of evolutionary psychology. In a series of best-selling books, he has argued that our mental faculties — from emotions to decision-making to visual cognition — were forged by natural selection. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16087 - Posted: 11.29.2011

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor Researchers have learned that a psychopaths brain structure is significantly different from others. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers discovered the variance studying images of prisoners’ brains. The results could help explain the callous and impulsive anti-social behavior exhibited by some psychopaths. The study showed that psychopaths have reduced connections between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the part of the brain responsible for sentiments such as empathy and guilt, and the amygdala, which reconciles fear and anxiety. Structural changes in the brain were confirmed using two different types of brain images. Diffusion tensor images (DTI) showed reduced structural integrity in the white matter fibers connecting the two areas, while a second type of image that maps brain activity, a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI), showed less coordinated activity between the vmPFC and the amygdala. “This is the first study to show both structural and functional differences in the brains of people diagnosed with psychopathy,” says Michael Koenigs. “Those two structures in the brain, which are believed to regulate emotion and social behavior, seem to not be communicating as they should.” © 1992-2011 Psych Central

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 16073 - Posted: 11.26.2011

By ANDREW JACOBS BEIJING — Big Red Belly, his thick limbs nourished by a strict liver-tofu-ginger diet, should have been a contender. Instead, as his trainer watched in dismay, the young fighter nervously circled his more menacing adversary and then skittered to a corner of the ring, prompting jeers from a half-dozen spectators. “Worthless,” his patron, Chang Hongwei, a retired mechanical engineer, growled as he yanked Big Red Belly from the arena and unceremoniously ended his brief fighting career. “Next!” Countless members of the Gryllus bimaculatus clan, also known as field crickets, have faced off in the capital’s narrow alleys this fall in a uniquely Chinese blood sport whose provenance extends back more than 1,000 years. Nurtured by Tang Dynasty emperors and later popularized by commoners outside the palace gates, cricket fighting was banned as a bourgeois predilection during the decade-long Cultural Revolution, which ended in 1976. But like many once-suppressed traditions, among them Confucianism, mah-jongg and pigeon raising, cricket fighting is undergoing a revival here, spurred on by a younger generation — well, mostly young men — eager to embrace genuinely Chinese pastimes. Cricket-fighting associations have sprung up across the country, as have more than 20 Web sites devoted to the minutiae of raising critters whose daily needs can rival those of an Arabian steed. Last year, more than 400 million renminbi, or about $63 million, were spent on cricket sales and upkeep, according to the Ningyang Cricket Research Institute in Shandong Province. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15996 - Posted: 11.08.2011

by Ferris Jabr What got you interested in the history of violence? I was struck by a graph I saw of homicide rates in British towns and cities going back to the 14th century. The rates had plummeted by between 30 and 100-fold. That stuck with me, because you tend to have an image of medieval times with happy peasants coexisting in close-knit communities, whereas we think of the present as filled with school shootings and mugging and terrorist attacks. Then in Lawrence Keeley's 1996 book War Before Civilization I read that modern states at their worst, such as Germany in the 20th century or France in the 19th century, had rates of death in warfare that were dwarfed by those of hunter-gatherer and hunter-horticultural societies. That too, is of profound significance in terms of our understanding of the costs and benefits of civilisation. Isn't this topic a departure for you? Your earlier books focus on how the mind and brain work... Two of my earlier books, How The Mind Works and The Blank Slate, were not about language or even cognition, narrowly, but about human nature. In them I talked about violence, for example, the abolition of barbaric customs such as torturing people to death for religious heresy, to reinforce the point that human nature comprises many components, some of which incline us toward violence, some of which pull us away from it. The fact that violence has declined and what this implied for human nature were spelled out in both books, but I decided that those paragraphs deserved to be expanded into a book of their own. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15931 - Posted: 10.22.2011

by Sara Reardon As the Thirty Years' War between Europe's ruling dynasties dragged on during the 17th century, soldiers suffered through the coldest few decades Europe had experienced for some time. Far to the east, armies from Manchuria (present day northern China) swept down from the snowy north and breeched the Great Wall of China. Not long after, a plague swept Europe. Why so much tumult? A controversial new study suggests that most of humankind's maladies—from wars to epidemics to economic downturns—can be traced to climate fluctuations. Advances in paleoclimatology have enabled researchers to look back further in time than they ever could before. One of these scientists, geographer David Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, was particularly interested in how hot and cold spells affect human civilization. He and colleagues loaded a powerful statistical analysis tool with socioeconomic, ecological, demographic, and other data. They collected data on 14 variables, such as human height, the price of gold, tree ring width, and temperature from preindustrial Europe between the years 1500 and 1800. The team then performed a statistical analysis called a Granger causality analysis to establish whether cause-effect relationships existed between any of them. This type of powerful analysis allows researchers to look at a time series of data and form relationships in which one type of event consistently leads to another. Finally, the researchers divided the time period into four smaller slices, ranging from 40 to 150 years each, to ascertain whether major events during these eras are actually caused by temperature differences within a given period, not just correlated with it. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15870 - Posted: 10.04.2011

By Ella Davies Reporter, BBC Nature The secret to social dominance for bank voles appears to be the size of their genitals, according to scientists. The link was made by researchers from Europe who were studying the small brown mammals' reproductive behaviour. The study, in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, found dominant males had wider penis bones, also called baculum. Although not present in humans, these bones are found in many other species of mammal but their exact function has not been confirmed. A scan of the baculum bone (c) Jean-Francois Lemaitre The bank vole's penis bone is trident-shaped with a wide base The study was conducted by Dr Jean-Francois Lemaitre from the University of Liverpool with colleagues in France and Switzerland. Bank voles live for a maximum of 18 months and females give birth to four or five litters per year. "This species is particularly interesting for study... because females mate with several males during a single reproductive bout," explained Dr Lemaitre. Researchers suggest that this competition may have driven evolutionary adaptations in genital anatomy to improve males' chances of reproduction. To test their theory, the team collected wild bank voles in Cheshire and studied their lab-reared offspring to understand which were dominant and which were subordinate. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15869 - Posted: 10.04.2011

by Andy Coghlan Video: Meek mouse yields in dominance duel Dominant mice can be humbled and wimps made mighty by altering the strength of electrical connections in their brain. The crucial connections dictating a mouse's place in the social hierarchy appear to sit in the part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), responsible for emotion and decision-making. To investigate the impact of the mPFC on social ranking, Hailan Hu of the Chinese Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai and her colleagues first worked out the social hierarchy of mice through challenges between pairs of the animals in transparent tubes. When the mice came face to face, the subordinate animal would retreat and back out of the tube. The team then injected a virus into some of the mice that inserts a gene called GluR4 into mPFC neurons. GluR4 amplifies transmission of electrical signals – a key step in strengthening connections. When the dominance tests were repeated, previously subordinate mice that had received the virus were propelled to the top of the social ladder. "These mice also tended to gain more food in competition with their cage-mates, mark more territories and sing more courtship songs than their subordinate counterparts," says Hu. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 15864 - Posted: 10.01.2011

by Michael Marshall If there's one word that sums up a newborn human baby, it's "helpless". Newly hatched greater honeyguide chicks are far more capable: chillingly so. They emerge into pitch darkness, inside a tunnel dug by another bird where their mother has left them. They will soon be joined by the host bird's own chicks when they hatch. If this was a slasher movie, now would be the time to cover your eyes. The young honeyguide kills the other chicks within an hour. All this from a bird that as an adult helpfully guides humans to bees' nests, which the humans then raid for honey. Honeyguides lay their eggs in other birds' nests, just like cuckoos. Claire Spottiswoode of the University of Cambridge studies them in southern Zambia, where they tend to parasitise little bee-eaters. These birds dig tunnels in the sandy ground, often in the roofs of aardvark holes, where they lay their eggs. Spottiswoode was able to insert video cameras into these nests. Female honeyguides slip into the tunnels and lay their own eggs there. If there are any little bee-eater eggs in place, the honeyguide mother punctures them with her beak. That's not always enough, however, because eggs sometimes survive and the little bee-eater may lay more. Spottiswoode found that only 67 per cent of host eggs were punctured in parasitised nests. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 15773 - Posted: 09.08.2011

Roger Highfield, editor, New Scientist magazine This hyperaggressive rat is a legacy of a remarkable experiment started in the former Soviet Union in 1972 by Dmitry Belyaev. Like Charles Darwin before him, he was interested in the process of domestication. But while Darwin thought the process must be "insensibly slow", Belyaev suspected otherwise. He caught wild rats around the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and selectively bred two colonies on a farm a few kilometres away, hoping to mimic the process by which Neolithic farmers first domesticated animals. One colony was selected for tameness, the other for aggression. Belyaev died in 1985, but the experiment was continued by his successor, Lyudmila Trut, at the city's Institute of Cytology and Genetics. In 2003, geneticist Svante Pääbo visited Novosibirsk and the experiment. He was stunned by the vast changes in the animals' behaviour and how quickly these had been induced. The rats bred for tameness were incredibly easy to handle, while the aggressive ones were so prone to scream and bite that Pääbo said: "I got the feeling that 10 or 20 of them would probably kill me if they got out of the cages." Since returning to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Pääbo and colleague Frank Albert have been researching which of the rats' genes were selected for by the domestication process. They have now found several key regions of the genome that have a strong effect on tameness and suspect at least half a dozen genes are involved. The next step is to locate individual genes that influence tameness and aggression. "We're currently pursuing several approaches to home in on the genes and all of them are in their early days," says Albert. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15685 - Posted: 08.16.2011

By Christof Koch Recently developed powerful, yet also delicate and refined, genetic tools can inva­sively probe nervous systems of animals, far surpassing the safer but much cruder techniques that psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists use to observe the human brain. Now in a remarkable series of experiments, researchers have located a trigger for aggression in mice—providing us with fresh insights into the workings of our human consciousness. You might object that mice and men are not the same and that studying the murine mind is different from studying the human mind. This fact is obviously true. Yet both Mus musculus and Homo sapiens are nature’s children, sharing much perceptual, cognitive and affective processing. The same process of relentless evolutionary selection has shaped both species—our last common ancestor was a mere 75 million years ago. The structure of their brains, and of their genomes, reflects this similarity. Indeed, only a neuroanatomist can tell a rice grain–size piece of mouse cortex from the same chunk of human cortex. If you think of a mouse as a mere automaton, Google “world’s smartest mouse.” The top hit will be a YouTube video of Brain Storm, a cute brown mouse running a complicated obstacle course—crossing an abyss on a rope; jumping through hoops; going up and down a seesaw, over a pencil, up a steep incline and down a ladder; and navigating around obstacles. It hesitates on occasion, sniffs the air but, once started, speedily completes the circuit. The amazing finesse and utility of contemporary molecular biology techniques are illustrated in recent experiments dealing with sex and power—the twin themes around which much of popular culture, psychoanalysis and art is centered. © 2011 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15615 - Posted: 07.28.2011

By CAITLIN O’CONNELL-RODWELL Two male black rhinos are huffing and grumbling out their differences just below the tower in a darkness one can know only in wild places. The coming of the new moon makes it hard to ignore the brilliance of the Milky Way in an obsidian sky. Intermittently, the rhinos bellow when one or the other crosses some seemingly arbitrary line drawn in the sand by angry feet. Almost three weeks into the season, it’s impossible not to notice a similar line in the sand drawn by many male denizens of Mushara, and for the elephant, that line plays out in a myriad of forms, from all-out avoidance to full-on combat — not so much over territories, but over who’s in charge. And since the dynamics of male elephant dominance hierarchies are a particular focus of my studies, when and how Greg the elephant draws a line in the sand is under great scrutiny. To address this question, interactions between male elephants are painstakingly documented by my research team via video and live-scoring of behaviors using a Noldus Observer datalogger while elephants visit the water hole. And one or more members of the team are on watch, starting around 10 a.m., to scan the horizon and give the team enough warning that elephants are heading in, in order to ready the equipment for a recording session. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 15605 - Posted: 07.26.2011

By JAMES GORMAN From the wild to Wall Street, as everyone knows, the alpha male runs the show, enjoying power over other males and, as a field biologist might put it, the best access to mating opportunities. The beta is No. 2 in the wolf pack or the baboon troop, not such a bad position. But conversationally, the term has become an almost derisive label for the nice guy, the good boy all grown up, the husband women look for after the fling with Russell Crowe. It may now be time to take a step back from alpha worship. Field biologists, the people who gave the culture the alpha/beta trope in the first place, have found there can be a big downside to being No. 1. Laurence R. Gesquiere, a research associate in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton, and colleagues report in the journal Science that in five troops of wild baboons in Kenya studied over nine years, alpha males showed very high stress levels, as high as those of the lowest-ranking males. The stress, they suggested, was probably because of the demands of fighting off challengers and guarding access to fertile females. Beta males, who fought less and had considerably less mate guarding to do, had much lower stress levels. They had fewer mating opportunities than the alphas, but they did get some mating in, more than any lower-ranking males. After all, when the alpha gets in another baboon bar fight, who’s going to take the girl home? © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15561 - Posted: 07.16.2011

By Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld Earlier this year a 22-year-old college dropout, Jared Lee Loughner, shot Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords through the head near a Tucson supermarket, causing significant damage to Giffords’s brain. In the same shooting spree, Loughner killed or wounded 18 others, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. Information from Loughner’s postings on YouTube and elsewhere online suggests that he is severely mentally ill. Individuals with serious mental illnesses have perpetrated other recent shoot-ings, including the massacre in 2007 at ­Virginia Tech in which a college senior, ­Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people and wounded 17. These events and the accompanying media coverage have probably fed the public’s perception that most profoundly mentally ill people are violent. Surveys show that 60 to 80 percent of the public believes that those diagnosed with schizophrenia, in particular, are likely to commit violent acts. Although studies have pointed to a slight increase in the risk of violent behaviors among those afflicted with major psychiatric ailments, a closer examination of the research suggests that these disorders are not strong predictors of aggressive behavior. In reality, severely mentally ill people account for only 3 to 5 percent of violent crimes in the general population. The data indicate that other behaviors are likely to be better harbingers of physical aggression—an insight that may help us prevent outbursts of rage in the future. Not all psychological and emotional disorders portend violence, even in society’s eyes. In this column, we refer only to severe mental illness—meaning schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychotic depression. Symptoms of schizophrenia include marked disturbances in thoughts, emotions and behaviors; delusions (fixed false beliefs); hallucinations (perceiving things that are not physically present); disorganization; and withdrawal from social activities. Bipolar disorder is usually characterized by swings between depression and mania, which involves euphoria and grandiosity, a boost in energy and less need for sleep. Psychotic depression includes acute depressive symptoms, along with delusions or hallucinations, or both. © 2011 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15540 - Posted: 07.09.2011

By SINDYA N. BHANOO The cruel, persistent bullying that older siblings display toward younger ones does not have lifelong consequences — at least among blue-footed boobies, a new study finds. Boobies are marine birds that typically lay two eggs that hatch four days apart. During a four-month nesting period, the senior sibling is known to peck and attack its junior sibling incessantly until the younger bird becomes habitually submissive. Senior chicks end up gaining an advantage in terms of size, strength and motor coordination over their younger siblings. Younger siblings receive fewer feedings and less fish from parents, and during the first three weeks of life their weight is 11 percent lower. Younger chicks also suffer from elevated levels of stress hormones that are 109 percent higher than in senior chicks in the first 15 to 20 days of life. Yet all adult boobies seem equally capable of displaying aggression toward intruders approaching their nests, said Oscar Sánchez-Macouzet , an evolutionary biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the study’s first author. He and his colleagues report their findings in the journal Biology Letters. “To our surprise, former junior and senior chicks did not differ in their aggressiveness defending their nests,” he said. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15482 - Posted: 06.23.2011

Analysis by Marianne English The warning signs may seem subtle at first -- a child unable to empathize with others; another seems to fear nothing, not even the consequences of violence. With time, researchers say, these descriptions might reflect a growing association between criminality and antisocial behavior. But most recently, determining who might become a danger to society may be as easy as performing a brain scan, according to neurocriminology, a scientific discipline that uses neuroscience to predict and potentially reduce crime. Along these lines, is it realistic to use brain scans to pinpoint which individuals are more at risk for criminal behavior before they commit crimes? For some researchers, the idea is plausible, with the field reviving the nature versus nurture debate, as highlighted by Josh Fischman in a Chronicle of Higher Education article that profiles the work of University of Pennsylvania researcher Adrian Raine. Raine's work, which draws from neuroscience and the legal system, focuses on differences in the minds of criminals and non-criminals. Over the years, he's established evidence for a link between the brain and criminal behavior. By working with murderers, rapists and pedophiles, he's helped confirm that two brain structures -- the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex -- are smaller and less active in individuals with antisocial and criminal tendencies. Both areas are thought to give rise to complex behaviors shaped by emotion and fear. © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 15477 - Posted: 06.23.2011

By PATRICIA COHEN It was less than 20 years ago that the National Institutes of Health abruptly withdrew funds for a conference on genetics and crime after outraged complaints that the idea smacked of eugenics. The president of the Association of Black Psychologists at the time declared that such research was in itself “a blatant form of stereotyping and racism.” The tainted history of using biology to explain criminal behavior has pushed criminologists to reject or ignore genetics and concentrate on social causes: miserable poverty, corrosive addictions, guns. Now that the human genome has been sequenced, and scientists are studying the genetics of areas as varied as alcoholism and party affiliation, criminologists are cautiously returning to the subject. A small cadre of experts is exploring how genes might heighten the risk of committing a crime and whether such a trait can be inherited. The turnabout will be evident on Monday at the annual National Institute of Justice conference in Arlington, Va. On the opening day criminologists from around the country can attend a panel on creating databases for information about DNA and “new genetic markers” that forensic scientists are discovering. “Throughout the past 30 or 40 years most criminologists couldn’t say the word ‘genetics’ without spitting,” Terrie E. Moffitt, a behavioral scientist at Duke University, said. “Today the most compelling modern theories of crime and violence weave social and biological themes together.” © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15464 - Posted: 06.21.2011

Rowan Hooper, news editor IF YOU like to think of chimps as wise, rational tool-users, gorillas as gentle giants, or bonobos as sexed-up hippie apes, be prepared for a shock. Among African Apes, a collection of field diaries, is primatology given the Tarantino treatment. In the introduction, Martha Robbins of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, emphasises that extreme violence among primates is rare. The incidents described in the book stuck in the biologists' minds because they illustrate how aggression can influence ape society. They stuck in my mind too because, infrequent as they are, these are clearly not random episodes, but key moments in the lives of characters who behave in such familiar ways that we see ourselves in them. In the course of the book we learn about infanticide and violent infighting among silverback gorillas. We get to know Mlima, a gorilla the biologists have been observing almost daily for six years. Through diary entries we are there when they find her dying from wounds inflicted by a younger member of her own species. We also meet Volker, an ambitious young bonobo the researchers have followed for most of his life. Volker has close relations with Amy, a female whose baby the researchers believe he fathered, but the attention he pays her is finally punished: he is savagely beaten by his former friends. The biologists observe Volker's screaming face as he clings to a tree trunk, then never see him again. Josephine Head, also of the Max Planck Institute, describes how she tracked a trail of blood from where chimps had been vocalising loudly the night before, and made a horrible discovery: the spread-eagled body of an adult male chimp, his face battered and bruised, throat torn open and intestines dragged out. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15400 - Posted: 06.07.2011

by Shaoni Bhattacharya SEEMINGLY random acts of violence by bottlenose dolphins on porpoises could be down to sexual frustration among young males. Cases of the cetaceans killing other creatures for no apparent reason have been reported in UK waters. Now bottlenose dolphins have been seen attacking harbour porpoises in the Pacific Ocean. Crucially, these observations show for the first time that the attackers are young males (Marine Mammal Science, DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00474.x). Mark Cotter at Okeanis, a non-profit conservation organisation in Moss Landing, California, and colleagues observed three acts of aggression by dolphins on lone porpoises. The dolphins chased the porpoises at high speed, rammed and then drowned them. In one particularly violent attack, three dolphins corralled their victim before seven others joined them to ram the porpoise to death. Cotter found most shocking the fact that two dolphins remained behind to play with the carcass before pushing it towards his boat. "It was almost like they said: 'We're done playing with it, here you go'." Competition for food does not seem to explain the attacks, as the dietary overlap between the two species is small, says Cotter. But the fact that 21 of the 23 attackers were males may be revealing. He believes that the attacks are "object oriented play" during the breeding season by young males who cannot get access to females because of competition from older males. "They are taking out their frustrations," he says. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15399 - Posted: 06.04.2011