, Volume 156, Issue 4, pp 477-480

Tryptophan depletion increases aggression in women during the premenstrual phase

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Rationale: Reducing serotonin by the method of tryptophan depletion (TD) has led to increased aggression but experimental studies have not used female subjects. Objective: To evaluate the effects of TD on aggression in women in the late luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Methods: Healthy women were recruited and randomly assigned to an amino acid drink either depleted or with a balanced amount of tryptophan. At 4.5 h later, they competed on the competitive reaction time task. Results: Women who had received the TD drink showed more behavioural aggression in response to provocation. Conclusion: Decreased serotonergic neurotransmission increases aggression in women as well as men.

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