Tit-for-tat: The neural basis of reactive aggression

Department of Neuropsychology, Otto-von-Guericke University, Universitätsplatz 2, 39106, Magdeburg, Germany.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 11/2007; 38(1):203-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.07.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Aggressive behavior is a basic form of human social interaction, yet little is known about its neural substrates. We used a laboratory task to investigate the neural correlates of reactive aggression using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The task is disguised as a reaction-time competition between the subject and two opponents and entitles the winner to punish the loser. It seeks to elicit aggression by provocation of the subject. As each single trial in this task is separated into a decision phase, during which the severity of the prospective punishment of the opponent is set, and an outcome phase, during which the actual punishment is applied or received, the paradigm enables us to analyze the neural events during each of these phases. Specific neural responses in areas related to negative affect, cognitive control and reward processing provide additional information about the cognitive, emotional and motivational processes underlying reactive aggressive behavior and afford us with the possibility to test and expand theories on aggression such as the General Aggression Model.

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Available from: Ulrike Krämer, Jul 07, 2015
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    • "In humans, punishing someone for a transgression can evoke a feeling of reward. The latter instance is demonstrated in the Taylor Aggression paradigm, where reactive elements of aggression are operationalized in terms of punishment with provocation, reactive aggression activates reward-related subcortical areas such as the ventral striatum (De Quervain et al., 2004; Krämer et al., 2007). "
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    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 12/2014; 8:425. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00425 · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    • "Especially voluntary inhibition, so to speak the 'free won't' as opposed to the free will (Brass and Haggard, 2007), has been the function attributed to AIC activation. As mentioned previously, AIC involvement in the context of social interaction paradigms related to retaliation and the punishment of unfairness has mostly been interpreted as reflecting the processing of negative emotions (Sanfey et al., 2003; de Quervain et al., 2004; Krämer et al., 2007; White et al., 2013). These interpretations are highly reasonable , although seemingly conflicting with results that reveal AIC to be equally involved in unsuccessful inhibition (Menon et al., 2001) and the processing of positive emotions (Hennenlotter et al., 2005; Jabbi et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Inhibiting impulsive reactions while still defending one's vital resources is paramount to functional self-control and successful development in a social environment. However, this ability of successfully inhibiting, and thus controlling one's impulsivity, often fails, leading to consequences ranging from motor impulsivity to aggressive reactions following provocation. Although inhibitory failure represents the underlying mechanism, the neurocognition of social aggression and motor response inhibition have traditionally been investigated in separation. Here, we aimed to directly investigate and compare the neural mechanisms underlying the failure of inhibition across those different modalities of self-control. We employed functional imaging to reveal the overlap in neural correlates between failed motor response inhibition (measured by a go/no-go task) and reactive aggression (measured by the Taylor aggression paradigm) in healthy males. The core overlap of neural correlates was located in anterior insula, suggesting common anterior insula involvement in motor impulsivity as well as reactive aggression. This evidence regarding an overarching role of anterior insula across different modalities of self-control enables an integrative perspective on insula function and a better integration of cognitive, social, and emotional factors into a comprehensive model of impulsivity. Furthermore, it can eventually lead to a better understanding of clinical syndromes involving inhibitory deficits.
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    • "Note that these brain regions were frequently demonstrated to be at least partially associated with the so-called painmatrix (Decety, 2010, for review). Even in a study by Krämer et al. (2007), insula activation was associated with decision behavior in highly provocative phases in the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (Taylor, 1967). In short, the present data especially supported the idea of behavioral control processes related to inferior frontal brain regions and the processing of aversion associated with insula activation that are triggered when individuals are deeply involved in reactive-aggressive interactions. "
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