Links for Keyword: Aggression

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By James Gorman If you want to know what makes hummingbirds tick, it’s best to avoid most poetry about them. Bird-beam of the summer day, — Whither on your sunny way? Whither? Probably off to have a bloodcurdling fight, that’s whither. John Vance Cheney wrote that verse, but let’s not point fingers. He has plenty of poetic company, all seduced by the color, beauty and teeny tininess of the hummingbird but failed to notice the ferocity burning in its rapidly beating heart. The Aztecs weren’t fooled. Their god of war, Huitzilopochtli, was a hummingbird. The Aztecs loved war, and they loved the beauty of the birds as well. It seems they didn’t find any contradiction in the marriage of beauty and bloodthirsty aggression. Scientists understood that aggression was a deep and pervasive part of hummingbird life. But they, too, have had their blind spots. The seemingly perfect match of nectar-bearing flowers to slender nectar-sipping beaks clearly showed that hummingbirds were shaped by co-evolution. It seemed clear that, evolutionarily, plants were in charge. Their need for reliable pollinators produced flowers with a shape that demanded a long slender bill. Hummingbird evolution obliged. But hummingbirds also heard the call of battle, which demanded a different evolutionary course. Some of those slender, delicate beaks have been reshaped into strong, sharp and dangerous weapons. In a recent paper organizing and summing up 10 years of research, Alejandro Rico-Guevara and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, shared evidence gathered by high-speed video about how the deadly beaks are deployed in male-to-male conflict. Like the horns of bighorn sheep or the giant mandibles of stag beetles, hummingbird beaks are used to fight off rivals for mates. This is sexual selection, a narrow part of natural selection, in which the improvement of mating chances is the dominant force. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25937 - Posted: 02.06.2019

By Elizabeth Pennisi A 9-year study has uncovered some unusual behavior by common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) living off the coast of Slovenia. Within one population of this species, the animals have divided into two groups that avoid contact by hunting at different times of day—a social strategy not known in marine mammals. Researchers used photographs of the dolphins’ dorsal fins to individually identify them. They made many observations of 38 of the animals, carefully recording the time, date, and location of each sighting. The marine mammals divided into two major groups of 19 and 13 animals each, with six animals loosely making up a third group, the team reports today in Marine Biology. The 19 members of the larger group tended to hang out—and likely hunt—while following fishing trawlers in the Bay of Trieste, which is located at the eastern top of Italy’s “boot.” The second group’s cadre of 13 never associated with boats when in the Bay of Trieste. Although the dolphins hunted in the same area, they rarely saw each other, the researchers discovered, because the larger group was in that area only between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time, whereas the smaller group showed up between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Other studies have documented groups of dolphins that divide up the waters where they hunt, but this is the first time these marine mammals have been shown to timeshare the sea, the researchers note. Although they don’t know why—or how—the dolphins set these schedules, the fact that the animals are never in the same place likely diminishes unfriendly encounters and reduces direct competition for food. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25798 - Posted: 12.20.2018

By Melinda Wenner Moyer Intuitively, it makes sense Splatterhouse and Postal 2 would serve as virtual training sessions for teens, encouraging them to act out in ways that mimic game-related violence. But many studies have failed to find a clear connection between violent game play and belligerent behavior, and the controversy over whether the shoot-‘em-up world transfers to real life has persisted for years. A new study published on October 1 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tries to resolve the controversy by weighing the findings of two dozen studies on the topic. The meta-analysis does tie violent video games to a small increase in physical aggression among adolescents and preteens. Yet debate is by no means over. Whereas the analysis was undertaken to help settle the science on the issue, researchers still disagree on the real-world significance of the findings. This new analysis attempted to navigate through the minefield of conflicting research. Many studies find gaming associated with increases in aggression, but others identify no such link. A small but vocal cadre of researchers have argued much of the work implicating video games has serious flaws in that, among other things, it measures the frequency of aggressive thoughts or language rather than physically aggressive behaviors like hitting or pushing, which have more real-world relevance. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25518 - Posted: 10.02.2018

By Frankie Schembri Some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, including lone gunmen killing 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have occurred in the past 2 years. These tragedies were preventable, says Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at the University of California (UC), Davis, Medical Center, and the director of UC Davis’s Violence Prevention Research Program. Wintemute has studied gun violence for more than 30 years and is one of the few researchers to approach the matter as an issue of public health. He has gone undercover at gun shows to document illegal activity and worked with California lawmakers to establish gun policies. Wintemute writes about his solutions to gun violence in an opinion piece published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. Science chatted with him about the unique factors behind mass shootings and which policy interventions are most effective. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Q: What does it mean to approach gun violence from a public health perspective? A: Firearm violence has been seen traditionally as a crime problem. But gun violence is one of our leading causes of death and injury, and the implications of this violence are huge in terms of the safety and health of our overall population. So, we treat it as we would any other major health problem. We ask: Where does it come from? How does it get amplified? Who is at risk for developing this problem? Can we learn enough to create a treatment or prevention strategy? © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25503 - Posted: 09.28.2018

By Frankie Schembri For animals unlucky enough to run into a carnivorous songbird known as the shrike, a quiet scurry through the woods can quickly morph into a dance with death. Loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus), aka butcherbirds, impale their prey on spiky plants or barbed wire before delivering a death blow to the neck with their hooked beaks. Now, a new study shows how the birds can take down lizards and mice with body masses more than twice their own. Scientists used a high-speed video camera to film 28 shrikes attacking large vertebrate prey at a zoological research center on San Clemente Island in California. When the researchers examined the slowed-down footage, they found that in nearly all fatal attacks, the shrikes would first latch onto the necks of their prey, vigorously shaking them up and down. By using their prey’s neck as a pivot to whip them in wavelike motion, the shrikes could cause fatal damage to cervical vertebrae and spinal cords, the researchers report today in Biology Letters. When the team analyzed the shaking motions, they found that the shrikes could exert up to 6 gs of accelerative force. By comparison, humans in low-speed, rear-end car crashes can experience head accelerations of 2 to 12 gs, enough to cause whiplash. On a mouse’s smaller spine, these forces can be fatal. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25417 - Posted: 09.05.2018

By Ingfei Chen Newtown, Connecticut. Las Vegas. Parkland, Florida. Annapolis, Maryland. And just two days ago, Jacksonville, Florida, where the details are still coming in. With each ghastly mass shooting in a school, workplace, or other public location, journalists scramble to piece together what happened, and speculation runs high as to whether the gunman had mental illness. But critics say the media coverage perpetuates deep-seated, stigmatizing attitudes about diagnoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. What can journalists do to cover the mental health connection in these mass murders in a responsible way? “Journalism is far too quick to try to guess at the ‘why’ behind these sorts of things, but speculation can have serious consequences.” Earlier this month, police investigators released a final report on the massacre at a Las Vegas concert last October, the deadliest shooting in modern American history. The motives of the 64-year-old gunman — a wealthy high-stakes gambler — remain unclear, they conceded, but he had burned through much of his fortune and shown potential signs of a troubled mind. While some news outlets made only brief reference to suspicions that the shooter may have had mental illness, others blared it. It’s a familiar theme. In recent years, the national conversation about gun violence has boiled down to a narrative — amplified by the media — that essentially blames mental illness as a prominent cause of these cold-blooded public mass shootings. Mental illness has become highly politicized in the gun-control debate, yet the link between psychiatric problems and violence isn’t so straightforward. And mental health advocates say the over-simplistic narrative unfairly labels millions of Americans who have a psychiatric diagnosis with the false stereotype of being dangerous. Copyright 2018 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25396 - Posted: 08.29.2018

By Andrew R. Calderon In 1978, Thomas Barefoot was convicted of killing a police officer in Texas. During the sentencing phase of his trial, the prosecution called two psychiatrists to testify about Barefoot’s “future dangerousness,” a capital-sentencing requirement that asked the jury to determine if the defendant posed a threat to society. The psychiatrists declared Barefoot a “criminal psychopath,” and warned that whether he was inside or outside a prison, there was a “one hundred percent and absolute chance” that he would commit future acts of violence that would “constitute a continuing threat to society.” Informed by these clinical predictions, the jury sentenced Barefoot to death. Although such psychiatric forecasting is less common now in capital cases, a battery of risk assessment tools has since been developed that aims to help courts determine appropriate sentencing, probation and parole. Many of these risk assessments use algorithms to weigh personal, psychological, historical and environmental factors to make predictions of future behavior. But it is an imperfect science, beset by accusations of racial bias and false positives. Now a group of neuroscientists at the University of New Mexico propose to use brain imaging technology to improve risk assessments. Kent Kiehl, a professor of psychology, neuroscience and the law at the University of New Mexico, said that by measuring brain structure and activity they might better predict the probability an individual will offend again.

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25339 - Posted: 08.16.2018

/ By Rod McCullom Eight years ago, New York University sociologist Patrick Sharkey published a paper whose conclusions shook the worlds of criminology and adolescent psychology. Researchers had long known that children exposed to violence and crime had poorer measures of memory, attention, planning, and focus — the cognitive processes collectively known as executive function — than peers whose lives were violence-free. But what Sharkey found, using data on 6,000 Chicago homicides from 1994 to 2002, was that a killing in a child’s neighborhood could significantly lower his or her scores on standardized tests — even if the child did not witness the killing or know the victim. He proposed that post-traumatic stress caused by exposure to violence could explain about half of the “achievement gap” between black and white students — a disparity that leads to persistent inequalities in education, income, careers, housing, and more. Similar findings have been documented in more recent studies, but one question has continued to vex researchers: Why? How does even indirect violence get under a child’s skin and into the brain? Now some intriguing interdisciplinary research — by psychologists, economists, and sociologists — suggests that a large part of the answer may lie in two biological pathways: sleep and the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers at Northwestern University, DePaul University, and NYU (including Sharkey) looked at 82 adolescents aged 11 to 18 who attended public schools in a “large Midwestern city.” (The school system asked for anonymity to participate in the study.) At least half the students had at least one violent crime in their neighborhood during the participation period, according to geocoded police report data collected by the researchers. The students wore activity-tracking watches that measured sleep-wake patterns, and most of them delivered three saliva samples daily for measuring cortisol levels. Copyright 2018 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25285 - Posted: 08.02.2018

In the wake of a mass shooting — or any other senseless tragedy — the search for answers begins. How could it happen? Could it have been prevented? What can we do to prevent this from happening again? The question of whether there is a relationship between mental illness and violence — and the potential threat it may pose to public safety — was renewed this week after the family of Faisal Hussain, the gunman in Sunday night's deadly shooting rampage in Toronto, said he was mentally ill. "Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life," the statement said. Two people were killed and 13 others injured in the attack, jolting a city already rattled by escalating gun violence. Hussain died from a gunshot wound moments after exchanging gunfire with Toronto police officers. Little is known about Hussain's condition or treatment beyond the statement released by his family. And while some explanation of what may have tormented or even motivated Hussain may add to our understanding, experts agree mental illness is just one of many potential red flags and not a reliable predictor of behaviour. People leave flowers at a memorial Tuesday honouring the victims of the mass shooting on Toronto's Danforth Avenue. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press) ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25252 - Posted: 07.26.2018

by Amy Ellis Nutt The possibility of using brain stimulation to help prevent future violence just passed a proof of concept stage, according to new research published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience. In a double-blind, randomized controlled study, a group of volunteers who received a charge to their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that lies directly behind the forehead and is responsible for planning, reasoning and inhibition were — were less likely to say they would consider engaging in aggressive behavior compared to a similar group that received a sham treatment. The experiment looked at aggressive intent as well as how people reasoned about violence and found that a sense of moral wrongfulness about hypothetical acts of aggression was heightened in the group receiving the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This form of brain stimulation delivers targeted impulses to the brain through electrodes placed on a person's scalp. "Zapping offenders with an electrical current to fix their brains sounds like pulp fiction, but it might not be as crazy as it sounds," said Adrian Raine, a neurocriminologist at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study's investigators. "This study goes some way toward documenting a causal association by showing that enhancing the prefrontal cortex puts the brakes on the impulse to act aggressively." © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25171 - Posted: 07.03.2018

Darby Saxbe Flinching as a gunshot whizzes past your window. Covering your ears when a police car races down your street, sirens blaring. Walking past a drug deal on your block or a beating at your school. For kids living in picket-fence suburbia, these experiences might be rare. But for their peers in urban poverty, they are all too commonplace. More than half of children and adolescents living in cities have experienced some form of community violence – acts of disturbance or crime, such as drug use, beatings, shootings, stabbings and break-ins, within their neighborhoods or schools. Researchers know from decades of work that exposure to community violence can lead to emotional, social and cognitive problems. Kids might have difficulty regulating emotions, paying attention or concentrating at school. Over time, kids living with the stress of community violence may become less engaged in school, withdraw from friends or show symptoms of post-traumatic stress, like irritability and intrusive thoughts. In short, living in an unsafe community can have a corrosive effect on child development. Few studies, though, have specifically looked at the toll community violence may take on the growing brain. Recently, I studied this question in collaboration with a team of researchers here at the University of Southern California. Our goal: to see whether individuals exposed to more community violence in their early teen years would show differences in the structure and function of their brains in late adolescence. © 2010–2018, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25087 - Posted: 06.14.2018

Imagine having superhuman hearing. You’re at a noisy, cocktail party and yet your ears can detect normally inaudible sounds made by your friends’ muscles as they lean in to dish the latest gossip. But, unlike normal hearing, each of these sounds causes your ears to react in the same way. There is no difference between the quietest and loudest movements. To your superhuman ears, they all sound loud, like honking horns. According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, that may be how a shark’s electrosensing organ reacts when it detects teensy, tiny electrical fields emanating from nearby prey. “Sharks have this incredible ability to pick up nanoscopic currents while swimming through a blizzard of electric noise. Our results suggest that a shark’s electrosensing organ is tuned to react to any of these changes in a sudden, all-or-none manner, as if to say, ‘attack now,’” said David Julius, Ph.D., professor and chair of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco and senior author of the study published in Nature. His team studies the cells and molecules behind pain and other sensations. For instance, their results have helped scientists understand why chili peppers feel hot and menthol cool. Led by post-docs Nicholas W. Bellono, Ph.D. and Duncan B. Leitch, Ph.D., Dr. Julius’ team showed that the shark’s responses may be very different from the way the same organ reacts in skates, the flat, winged, evolutionary cousins of sharks and sting rays, and this may help explain why sharks appear to use electric fields strictly to locate prey while skates use them to find food, friends, and mates. They also showed how genes that encode for proteins called ion channels may control the shark’s unique “sixth sense.”

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25038 - Posted: 05.31.2018

By Kashmira Gander Scientists have turned off aggressive behavior in mice for weeks at a time by harnessing the power of a little-understood group of brain cells. In a new study, which sheds light on the potential biological cause of aggression, scientists tinkered with neurons in the brains of lab mice. To arrive at their findings, the researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden investigated the role of a set of neurons in the ventral premammillary nucleus (PMv) of the hypothalamus. Mice generally resort to aggression as a way to assert their dominance rather than cause harm, so the scientists tested their hypothesis using the so-called tube test. This involves pitting two mice against each other in a narrow corridor, in order to document their responses in this socially fraught situation. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed when male mice were confronted with a new male in their home cage, the animals responded aggressively, and showed activity in the PMv neurons. Using a technique where neurons are turned on and off using light, called optogenetics, the researchers were also able to trigger aggressive behavior in mice in scenarios where they were usually calm. In turn, they could stop a mouse mid-attack by turning off the light. What's more, when a generally submissive male was faced with a dominant male, blocking the PMv cells inverted their statuses. As well as aggression, PMv neurons also appeared to be associated with other parts of the brain—the part linked to rewards. © 2018 Newsweek LLC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25030 - Posted: 05.29.2018

Susan Milius Pick an animal. Choose wisely because in this fantasy you’ll transform into the creature and duel against one of your own. If you care about survival, go for the muscular, multispiked stag roaring at a rival. Never, ever pick the wingless male fig wasp. Way too dangerous. This advice sounds exactly wrong. But that’s because many stereotypes of animal conflict get the real biology backward. All-out fighting to the death is the rule only for certain specialized creatures. Whether a species is bigger than a breadbox has little to do with lethal ferocity. Many creatures that routinely kill their own kind would be terrifying, if they were larger than a jelly bean. Certain male fig wasps unable to leave the fruit they hatch in have become textbook examples, says Mark Briffa, who studies animal combat. Stranded for life in one fig, these males grow “big mouthparts like a pair of scissors,” he says, and “decapitate as many other males as they possibly can.” The last he-wasp crawling has no competition to mate with all the females in his own private fruit palace. In contrast, big mammals that inspire sports-team mascots mostly use antlers, horns and other outsize male weaponry for posing, feinting and strength testing. Duels to the death are rare. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24944 - Posted: 05.05.2018

Kas Roussy · You think you have a dysfunctional clan? Check out the family feud involving Humphrey, Charlie and Hugh. In the early '70s, the trio was part of a tight-knit community of wild chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. These are some of the same chimps that British primatologist Jane Goodall was studying at the time, looking at social and family dynamics. "Jane and other researchers who came to Gombe initially had this idea that chimpanzees were these idyllic forest-dwelling species that could provide this model for what humanity could be like," says Duke University researcher Joseph Feldblum. "They thought they were peaceful and egalitarian." They were about to get a reality check of the wild kingdom variety. According to a new study, the same things that fuel deadly clashes in humans — like power, ambition, and jealousy — can also tear apart chimpanzees. You'll recall from all those wildlife documentaries that chimps are our closest animal relatives. In Gombe, Goodall and her colleagues watched a once-unified group of chimps disintegrate into two rival factions. "There's still a bit of uncertainty, even with people who were there at the time, about exactly what happened," Feldblum tells CBC News. But thanks to new digitized data taken from Goodall's own field notes from that period, Feldblum and a team of scientists were able to get a clearer, more detailed picture of what they call "the seeds of the conflict." "We were able to examine the course of the split in more detail and pinpoint when it became obvious more precisely," says co-author and Duke anthropologist Anne Pusey. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 24820 - Posted: 04.04.2018

Amy Fleming Charles Ryan has a clinic in San Francisco at which he regularly relieves men of their testosterone. This “chemical castration”, as it is sometimes known, is not a punishment, but a common treatment for prostate cancer. Testosterone doesn’t cause the disease (currently the third most deadly cancer in the UK), but it fuels it, so oncologists use drugs to reduce the amount produced by the testicles. Ryan gets to know his patients well over the years, listening to their concerns and observing changes in them as their testosterone levels fall. Because it involves the so-called “male hormone”, the therapy poses existential challenges to many of those he treats. They know that every day, millions of people – from bodybuilders and cheating athletes to menopausal women – enhance their natural levels of testosterone with the aim of boosting their libido, muscle mass, confidence and energy. So what happens when production is suppressed? Might they lose their sex drive? Their strength? Their will to win? The fears are not always groundless. Side-effects can also include fatigue and weight gain. But Ryan has witnessed positives, too. As professor of medicine and urology at the University of California, he has noticed that the medical students who have passed through his clinic in the 18 years that he has been treating prostate cancer invariably comment: “Dr Ryan, your patients are so nice.” He replies, jokingly: “It’s because they don’t have any testosterone. They can’t be mean.” © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24768 - Posted: 03.20.2018

By MAYA SALAM and LIAM STACK President Trump said Thursday that violent video games and movies may play a role in school shootings, a claim that has been made — and rejected — many times since the increase in such attacks in the past two decades. Movies are “so violent,” Mr. Trump said at a meeting on school safety one day after he gathered with survivors of school shootings, including some from last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where, the authorities say, a former student, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people with a semiautomatic rifle. “We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed,” Mr. Trump said, “and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” “And then you go the further step and that’s the movies,” he added. “You see these movies, they’re so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved.” A neighbor of Mr. Cruz’s told The Miami Herald that he played video games, often violent ones, for up to 15 hours a day. Media scholars say the claim — a common one in the wake of mass shootings — does not hold up to scrutiny. Mr. Trump is far from the first leader to argue that violence in video games or movies can lead to violence in the real world. A similar claim was made in the 1940s, when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York argued that pinball — which was illegal in the city for over 30 years — was “dominated by interests heavily tainted with criminality.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24699 - Posted: 02.26.2018

By BENEDICT CAREY President Trump called again on Thursday for the opening of more mental hospitals to help prevent mass murders like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Yet ramping up institutional care, experts say, likely would not have prevented most of the spree killings regularly making headlines in this country. “We’re going to be talking about mental institutions. And when you have some person like this, you can bring them into a mental institution, and they can see what they can do. But we’ve got to get them out of our communities,” the president said during a meeting at the White House with state and local officials. In the 1960s, states across the country began to close or shrink mental hospitals after a series of court decisions that limited the powers of state and local officials to commit people. The decline continued for decades, in part because of cuts in both state and federal budgets for mental health care. Those institutions housed people with severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia, who were deemed unable to care for themselves. And while spree killers may be angry and emotionally disordered, few have had the sorts of illnesses that would have landed them in hospital custody. The latest school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, was clearly troubled and making threats, and he was stockpiling weapons. But he had no mental diagnosis. He has been described as angry, possibly depressed, perhaps isolated — not so different from millions of other teenagers. A full psychiatric evaluation, if he’d had one, might have resulted in a temporary commitment at best, but not full-time institutionalization, experts said. The idea that more such institutions would prevent this kind of violence “is ridiculous, because you can’t put half the people in the country with a mental disturbance in mental hospitals,” said Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who has studied mass killers. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24691 - Posted: 02.23.2018

By Linda Qiu and Justin Bank A heavily armed young man is accused of killing 17 people after opening fire on terrified students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. It was the third mass shooting in the past four months in the United States. Nikolas Cruz, who has been linked to a history of mental illness, is believed to have used a legally obtained AR-15 in the shooting. The attack has led to widespread conversations about links between gun violence and mental illness, and how lawmakers and interest groups are debating potential policy responses. Below is a look at some facts and falsehoods uttered by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin; Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont; and others in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting. “Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.” — House Speaker Paul Ryan There’s a link, but it’s more limited than widely thought. Mr. Ryan’s claim reflects a common misconception. According to various polls, roughly half of Americans either believe that failing to identify people with mental health problems is the primary cause of gun violence or that addressing mental health issues would be a major deterrent. That conclusion is not shared by experts or widely accepted research. In an analysis of 235 mass killings, many of which were carried out with firearms, 22 percent of the perpetrators could be considered mentally ill. Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016. To be sure, gun violence experts contacted by New York Times reporters have said that barring sales to people who are deemed dangerous by mental health providers could help prevent mass shootings. But the experts said several more measures — including banning assault weapons and barring sales to convicted violent criminals — more effective. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24676 - Posted: 02.17.2018

By Micah Johnson Charles Whitman lived a fairly unremarkable life until August 1, 1966, when he murdered 16 people including his wife and mother. What transformed this 25-year-old Eagle Scout and Marine into one of modern America’s first and deadliest school shooters? His autopsy suggests one troubling explanation: Charles Whitman had a brain tumor pressing on his amygdala, a region of the brain crucial for emotion and behavioral control. Can murder really be a symptom of brain disease? And if our brains can be hijacked so easily, do we really have free will? Neuroscientists are shedding new light on these questions by uncovering how brain lesions can lead to criminal behavior. A recent study contains the first systematic review of 17 known cases where criminal behavior was preceded by the onset of a brain lesion. Is there one brain region consistently involved in cases of criminal behavior? No—the researchers found that the lesions were widely distributed throughout different brain regions. However, all the lesions were part of the same functional network, located on different parts of a single circuit that normally allows neurons throughout the brain to cooperate with each other on specific cognitive tasks. In an era of increasing excitement about mapping the brain’s “connectome,” this finding fits with our growing understanding of complex brain functions as residing not in discrete brain regions, but in densely connected networks of neurons spread throughout different parts of the brain. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24594 - Posted: 01.31.2018