Neural and hormonal factors in agression

Essay by danim1High School, 12th gradeA, November 2014

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Laura Muth

Discuss the role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression. (24 marks)

Testosterone is a hormone produced in the male testes and in female ovaries however males produce 10 times more than females. Testosterone has been linked to aggression and as it plays a part in increased muscle and bone mass, this suggests that it plays a structural role in influencing aggression.

Testosterone has been shown to correlate with the level of aggression displayed by humans and animals. For example when levels of testosterone peak around the start of puberty there is also a corresponding level of aggression displayed in young males during this time.

Testosterone modulates levels of various neurotransmitters that mediate effects on aggression. There seems to be a critical period early in life, where exposure to testosterone is essential to elicit aggression in adulthood. It is though testosterone helps sensitise androgen responsive system.

There have been many experiments done to see the effects of adding and removing testosterone.

All of which have been performed on animals due to methodological and ethical issues with testing on humans. It was found that male mice that are castrated at birth showed a decreased level of aggression. These findings were also supported by similar studies involving different species fo animals and so it is not solely specific to mice. Although castration research can be useful, castration disrupts other hormone systems as well as testosterone and os these may be playing a part in the reduced aggression.

However as these findings come from animal studies, we cannot apply it to humans and so we cannot learn much about human behaviour from this specific experiment. This is because humans have a more complex physiology, for example, and so may respond quite differently. Instead, we have to do a cost-benefit analysis, in...