The Roots of Aggression
How does violence develop in the brain? Neuroscientists are now gaining a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms. With their knowledge they want to prevent murders one day.
From the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, a gunman fired 1,000 bullets into the crowds at a country music festival in 2017. It killed 58 people and injured more than 800 others. After committing suicide at the scene, the mass murderer's brain was turned over to Stanford University for research into a possible biological explanation for the heinous act.
With studies like this, scientists want to better understand how violence develops in the brain and how it is regulated. They want to identify the underlying neuronal mechanisms and thereby one day prevent acts of violence.
Physical clashes between conspecifics, which can also end fatally, have always existed in the animal kingdom. In the late 1920s, Swiss physiologist W alter Rudolf Hess began his groundbreaking experiments on cats. In doing so, he discovered an area deep inside the hypothalamus that can provoke violent aggression. This is also involved in other strong needs such as sex, thirst and hunger…