Biological Theories of Violence

  • Adrian Raine
  • Angela Scerbo
Part of the Foundations of Neuropsychology book series (FNPS, volume 4)


This chapter describes a number of biological theories of violence in order to provide a general framework for the following chapters on the neuropsychology of aggression. The selection of theories described here (frontal dysfunction, left hemisphere dysfunction, left fronto-temporal-limbic damage, reduced lateralization for language, underarousal, vagotonia, and fetal neural maldevelopment) are by no means exhaustive. Theories have been chosen because they represent important biological perspectives on violence and have been fairly extensively researched (e.g., frontal theory), because they may be of special interest to neuropsychologists (reduced lateralization for language), or because they represent relatively new perspectives that have been under-researched but that represent promising lines for future study (e.g., fetal maldevelopment, vagotonia). In particular, theories of violence based on research on steroids, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, GABA/benzodiazepine receptors, and the neuroanatomy of aggression in animals have not been included, since they may be of less direct interest to neuropsychologists researching violence in humans; they are nevertheless important biological perspectives that should be taken into account in any complete explanation of the biological basis of violence.


Violent Behavior Skin Conductance Biological Theory Psychopathic Trait Contingent Negative Variation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian Raine
  • Angela Scerbo

There are no affiliations available

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