Neurogenetics of Aggressive Behavior: Studies in Primates

  • Christina S. BarrEmail author
  • Carlos Driscoll
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 17)


Aggressive behavior can have adaptive value in certain environmental contexts, but when extreme or executed inappropriately, can also lead to maladaptive outcomes. Neurogenetic studies performed in nonhuman primates have shown that genetic variation that impacts reward sensitivity, impulsivity, and anxiety can contribute to individual differences in aggressive behavior. Genetic polymorphisms in the coding or promoter regions of the Mu-Opioid Receptor (OPRM1), Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH), Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA), Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4), and Serotonin Transporter (SLC6A4) genes have been shown to be functionally similar in humans and rhesus macaques and have been demonstrated to contribute to individual differences in aggression. This body of literature suggests mechanisms by which genetic variation that promotes aggressivity could simultaneously increase evolutionary success while making modern humans more vulnerable to psychopathology.


primate aggression genetic G x E macaque 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Comparative Behavioral Genomics, Laboratory of NeurogeneticsNIH/NIAAARockvilleUSA

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