The role of the brain and aggression

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  • Created on: 26-04-13 11:37
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  • The role of the brain and aggression
    • The Biological reasaons for aggression
      • A person can be aggressive because of their genetic make up
      • They are aggressive naturally
        • A person can be aggressive because of their genetic make up
      • Some psychologists have conducted research as to whether aggression has a gentic basis, but have not found a gene responsible
      • Research has focused more on how the brain functions and how areas of the brain are involved
        • Some psychologists have conducted research as to whether aggression has a gentic basis, but have not found a gene responsible
    • Looking at the Brain
      • The Amygdala: A brain structure thought to be involved in aggression. It recognises emotion and also creates emotional responses.
        • It is also responsible for producing aggression. In animal studies, if the amygdala is removed, the animal becomes very calm and does not respond to threathening situations with aggression. Damage to this area of the brain may cause increased levels of aggression
        • Some human case studies offer some evidence that the amygdala might cause aggression
          • King (1961) described a case of a woman whose amygdala was electrically stimulated during an operation. She became threatening and verbally aggressive until the electrical current was turned off
          • In 1966, Charles Whitman killed 13 people from an observation tower at Texas University, after killing his wife and mother. He left behind a note asking doctors to examine his brain as he was convinced that something was making him aggressive. He was found to have a brain tumour pressing against his amygdala
      • The Limbic System: An area of the brain involved in emotion. Set of brain structures that lie in the middle of the brain (looks like a wishbone). Responsible for emotions needed for survival, like fear and aggression.
        • People with emotional disorders have been shown to have damage to the limbic system. It is made up of many structures that are jointly responsible for recognising, controlling and producing aggression.
    • Difficulties researching human brain biology
      • Humans and animal brains are similar, but not enough for us to make a direct comparison. The problem with using animal studies as evidence is that they are very different form humans. However, we cannot of course puroposefully damage an area of the human brain to see if it results in aggression, and stimulation of the brian is very risky. So, it is difficult to tell whether the limbic system and amygdala are involved in aggressive behaviour or not, as there is limited direct proof.

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