Experimental Analysis of Aggression and Its Neural Basis

  • John P. Flynn
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 12)


At the present time there is no universally accepted definition of aggression, but one could probably get some agreement that threat and attack, even when done in the course of defense, are matters of major interest. Most would also say that exchanges between members of the same species were of particular importance. If we take this as a starting point for our inquiry into the neural basis of aggression, we are immediately confronted with the fact that what knowledge we have of the topic is not restricted to exchanges between members of the same species. There are two kinds of behavior whose neural basis is relatively clear. The classical rage syndrome seems to be defensive behavior in which threat and attack are major elements. The animal defends itself against various species, as potential sources of danger. On the other hand, quiet attack which is highly lethal, and relatively devoid of threat, is directed against members of the same and of other species.


Electrical Stimulation Neural Mechanism Neural Basis Defensive Behavior Noxious Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akerman, B. Behavioural effects of electrical stimulation in the forebrain of the pigeon. 1. Reproductive behaviour. Behaviour, 1966, 26, 323–338.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown, J.L., Hunsperger, R.W. and Rosvold, H.E. Defence, attack and flight elicited by electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus of the cat. Exp. Brain Res., 1969, 8,113–129.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Cairns, R.B. Fighting and punishment from a developmental perspective. In, Nebraska Symposium on Motivation(J.K. Cole and D.D. Jensen, eds.). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1972, pp. 59–124.Google Scholar
  4. Cannon, W.B. and Britton, S.W. Studies on the conditions of activity in endocrine glands: XV. Pseudaffective medulliadrenal secretion. American Journal of Physiology, 1925, 72, 283–294.Google Scholar
  5. Fabricius, E. and Jansson, A.M. Laboratory observations on the reproductive behavior of the pigeon (Columba livia) during the preincubatory phase of the breeding cycle. Animal Behaviour, 1963, 11, 534–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hess, W.R. Stammanglien-reizzversuch. IV. Tagung der Deutschen Physiologischen Gesellschaft in Frankfurt. Ber. ges. Physiol., 1928, 42, 554.Google Scholar
  7. Hess, W.R. and Akert, K. Experimental data on role of hypothalamus in mechanism of emotional behavior. Arch. Neurol. and Psychiat., 1955, 73, 127–129.Google Scholar
  8. Hess, W.R. and Brugger, M. Das subkortikale Zentrum der affektiven Absehrreaktion. Absehrreaktion. Helvetica Physiologica and Pharmacologica Acta, 1943, 1 , 35–52.Google Scholar
  9. v. Holst, E. and v. St. Paul, U. On the functional organisation of drives. Animal Behaviour, 1963, 2,1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hutchinson, R.R. The environmental causes of aggression. In, Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (J.K. Cole and D.D. Jensen, eds.). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1972, pp. 155–181.Google Scholar
  11. Karli, P. The Norway rat's killing response to the white mouse: An experimental analysis. Behaviour, 1956–57, 10, 81–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Leyhausen, P. Verhaltensstudien an Katzen3. Berlin und Hamburg: Paul Parey, 1973.Google Scholar
  13. Malliani, A., Carli, G., Mancia, G. and Zanchetti, A. Behavioral effects of electrical stimulation of group 1 muscle afferents in acute thalamic cats. J. Neurophysiol., 1968, 31, 210–220.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Marier, P. Studies of fighting in chaffinches (3) Proximity as a cause of aggression. British Journal of Animal Behavior, 1956, 4, 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Masserman, J.H. Is the hypothalamus a center of emotion? Psychosomatic Medicine, 1941, 3, 3–25.Google Scholar
  16. Nakao, H. Emotional behavior produced by hypothalamic stimulation. American Journal of Physiology, 1958, 104, 411–418.Google Scholar
  17. Roberts, W.W. and Kiess, H.O. Motivational properties of hypothalamic aggression in cats. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 1964, 58, 187–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rosvold, H.E., Mirsky, A.F. and Pribram, K.H. Influence of amygdalectomy on social behavior in monkeys. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 1954, 47, 173–178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Thompson, T. Aggressive behavior of Siamese fighting fish— Analysis and synthesis of conditioned and unconditioned components. In, Aggressive Behaviour (S. Garattini and E.B. Sigg, eds.). New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. and Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica Foundation, 1969, pp. 15–31.Google Scholar
  20. Ulrich, R. and Azrin, N. Reflexive fighting in response to adversive stimulation. Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 1962, 5, 511–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wasman, M. and Flynn, J.P. Directed attack elicited from hypothalamus. Archives of Neurology, 1962, 6, 220–227.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Woodworth, R.S. and Sherrington, C.S. A pseudaffective reflex and its spinal path. Journal of Physiology, 1904, 31, 234–243.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Flynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations