Neural mechanisms of the testosterone-aggression relation: the role of orbitofrontal cortex

J Cogn Neurosci. 2010 Oct;22(10):2357-68. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21389.


Testosterone plays a role in aggressive behavior, but the mechanisms remain unclear. The present study tested the hypothesis that testosterone influences aggression through the OFC, a region implicated in self-regulation and impulse control. In a decision-making paradigm in which people chose between aggression and monetary reward (the ultimatum game), testosterone was associated with increased aggression following social provocation (rejecting unfair offers). The effect of testosterone on aggression was explained by reduced activity in the medial OFC. The findings suggest that testosterone increases the propensity toward aggression because of reduced activation of the neural circuitry of impulse control and self-regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Games, Experimental
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reward
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone
  • Oxygen