Title

Serotonin Augmentation Reduces Response to Attack in Aggressive Individuals

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2009

Department

Psychology

Abstract

We tested the theory that central serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) activity regulates aggression by modulating response to provocation. Eighty men and women (40 with and 40 without a history of aggression) were randomly assigned to receive either 40 mg of paroxetine (to acutely augment serotonergic activity) or a placebo, administered using double-blind procedures. Aggression was assessed during a competitive reaction time game with a fictitious opponent. Shocks were selected by the participant and opponent before each trial, with the loser on each trial receiving the shock set by the other player. Provocation was manipulated by having the opponent select increasingly intense shocks for the participant and eventually an ostensibly severe shock toward the end of the trials. Aggression was measured by the number of severe shocks set by the participant for the opponent. As predicted, aggressive responding after provocation was attenuated by augmentation of serotonin in individuals with a pronounced history of aggression.

Publication Title

Psychological Science

Volume

20

Issue

6

First Page

714

Last Page

720