Toward an understanding of violence: neurobehavioral aspects of unwarranted physical aggression: Aspen Neurobehavioral Conference consensus statement

Neuropsychiatry Neuropsychol Behav Neurol. 2001 Jan;14(1):1-14.


Objective: Violence is a global problem that poses a major challenge to individuals and society. This document is a consensus statement on neurobehavioral aspects of violence as one approach to its understanding and control.

Background: This consensus group was convened under the auspices of the Aspen Neurobehavioral Conference, an annual consensus conference devoted to the understanding of issues related to mind and brain. The conference is supported by the Brain Injury Association and by individual philanthropic contributions. Participants were selected by conference organizers to represent leading opinion in neurology, neuropsychology, psychiatry, trauma surgery, nursing, evolutionary psychology, medical ethics, and law.

Methods: A literature review of the role of the brain in violent behavior was conducted and combined with expert opinion from the group. The major goal was to survey this field so as to identify major areas of interest that could be targeted for further research. Additional review was secured from the other attendees at the Aspen Neurobehavioral Conference.

Results: The group met in the spring of 1998 and 1999 for two 5-day sessions, between which individual assignments were carried out. The consensus statement was prepared after the second meeting, and agreement on the statement was reached by participants after final review of the document.

Conclusions: Violence can result from brain dysfunction, although social and evolutionary factors also contribute. Study of the neurobehavioral aspects of violence, particularly frontal lobe dysfunction, altered serotonin metabolism, and the influence of heredity, promises to lead to a deeper understanding of the causes and solution of this urgent problem.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / complications
  • Brain Diseases / psychology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Social Conditions
  • Violence / psychology*