Men: Feeling a Lack of Power Can Drive Aggression Toward Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily J. Cross, MS
School of Psychology, Science Centre
The University of Auckland
Auckland 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Aggression and violence in intimate relationships is very harmful, and unfortunately Aggression and violence in intimate relationships is very harmful, and unfortunately very common. So identifying what predicts relationship aggression and why is important. Men’s hostile sexism toward women is an established risk factor for relationship aggression, but we actually know little about why these attitudes promote relationship aggression. Understanding why helps to identify how these damaging processes may be reduced.

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Study Identifies Gene Mechanism Linked to Fear and Aggression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland 

Prof. Sandi

Prof. Carmen Sandi
Director, Brain Mind Institute
Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics
Brain Mind Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Lausanne, Switzerland 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We are interested in understanding how the brain regulates social behaviors and aggression, both in healthy individuals and individuals with psychiatric disorders. In our recent publication in Molecular Psychiatry, we investigated the impact of an alteration in a gene, St8sia2, that plays important roles during early brain development. Alterations in this gene have been linked with schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder, and individuals with these disorders frequently present high aggressiveness. In addition, expression of this gene in the brain can be altered by stressful insults during very early life and development.

Our study shows that genetic and environmental conditions linked to a reduction in the expression of this neuroplasticity gene during early life can lead to impaired fear learning and associated pathological aggression. We could further reveal that deficits in St8sia2 expression lead to a dysfunction in a receptor in the amygdala (a brain region critically involved in emotionality and fear learning), the GluN2B subunit of NMDA Receptors.

This allowed us to target this receptor with D-cycloserine, a drug that facilitates NMDA receptor function. This treatment, when given acutely, ameliorated the capacity to learn from adversity and reduced individuals’ aggressiveness.  Continue reading