Aggressive behavior induces an adrenocortical stress response, and sudden stressors often precipitate violent behavior. Experiments in rats revealed a fast, mutual, positive feedback between the adrenocortical stress response and a brain mechanism controlling aggression. Stimulation of the aggressive area in the hypothalamus rapidly activated the adrenocortical response, even in the absence of an opponent and fighting. Hypothalamic aggression, in turn, was rapidly facilitated by a corticosterone injection in rats in which the natural adrenocortical stress response was prevented by adrenalectomy. The rapidity of both effects points to a fast, mutual, positive feedback of the controlling mechanisms within the time frame of a single conflict. Such a mutual facilitation may contribute to the precipitation and escalation of violent behavior under stressful conditions.
Copyright 2004 APA.