The Genetic Component of Childhood Aggression

Warrior gene. Sounds like you almost want to have it. Like there’s some aztec-ey spirit lying inside you which will make you look like the people of Atlantis once its activated.

Unfortunately its not that outwardly cool. The warrior gene has been called into question because with the correct allele, the chance of displaying a phenotypically aggressive child increases. However there is one caveot to this statement. There must also be the presence of a difficult early childhood environment in order to catalyze this manifestation.

How exactly does this work? To put it simply, aggression has been linked with fluctuations of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Serotonin has previously been classified as the “happiness” chemical within the brain. The way the warrior gene effects serotonin levels is that it increases the reuptake of these neurotransmitters within the brain. Therefore, there is less serotonin to activate the neurons and thus less transmission.

In the study that I analyzed, researchers found that when you block the activation of these “reuptakers,” rats have displayed rescuing effects. I.e. those that may have had the warrior gene activated, when presented with a chemical that blocks the reuptake of serotonin, makes the rats less aggressive. These forms of drugs are similar to those presented to treat depression as well. This could be one possible treatment to tackle childhood aggression.


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