Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 95-101

First online:

Serotonin and aggression in children

  • Effie M. MitsisAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Queens College
  • , Jeffrey M. HalperinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Queens CollegeDepartment of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • , Jeffrey H. NewcornAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

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Research consistently indicates that in animals and adults, reduced central serotonergic (5-HT) function is associated with increased aggression. This relationship has been elucidated via cerebrospinal fluid monoamine metabolite levels, hormonal responses to pharmacologic challenge using serotonergic probes, platelet receptor binding studies, and, more recently, through molecular genetic approaches. In contrast, studies examining the relationship of 5-HT to aggression in children have been characterized by inconsistent findings. The literature examining the relationship between central 5-HT function and aggression is reviewed. Several hypotheses that might account for the discrepancies in the child literature are examined.