General Psychology

How Dopamine Affects Aggression


Can Dopamine Affect Aggression

The article “The Impact of Dopamine on Aggression: An [18F]-FDOPA PET Study in Healthy Males” was written in 2013 by a number of scholars, most notably Thorben Schlüter. It was found in the Journal of Neuroscience. The studies within were proposed to investigate any relationship between dopamine and aggressive behavior. The purpose of this research was to determine what difference, if any, existed in terms of aggression within samples of individuals possessing low DA levels.  The authors have posed that suggest that there is a direct correlation between the levels of dopamine present in the brain and vulnerability to reactive or impulsive aggression (Schlüter et al., 2013).

The studies within the articles investigated the patterns between presynaptic trait parameters of dopamine transmission and aggressive behavior within healthy volunteers. The procedure involved a series of scans, including a positron emission topography (PET) scan. The study produced estimates of an individual’s DA-synthesis capacity, and thus the total distribution potential for FDOPA(Vd). The hypothesis is that there is a direct relationship between higher subcortical DA synthesis and associated aggressive response (Schlüter et al., 2013).

 The primary result of the study is the correlation found between subcortical DA-synthesis capacity and aggressive actions.  The study refers to this comparison as the Aggressive Ratio. There was a particular difference found within the mid-brain. Though only a derivative of the study, it is also worth mentioning that all subjects responded well in terms of dopamine capacity to reward testing. Throughout a multitude of testing, these findings remained impressively consistent.            

It is notable that there are various forms of aggression including goal-directed attacks (instrumental) and impulsive (reactive).  Both forms of aggression were tested throughout the study and were found to be heavily influenced by dopamine. The study could indicate a need for an individual’s dopamine levels to be positively influenced in a diverse array of scenarios. In other words, it would be easy to apply the results of this study to a workplace, a household, a friendship, a school, or a variety of other institutions of life.  Utilizing dopamine-encouraged reward tactics which are healthy can result in reduced aggression. Some of these ideas might include positive human interaction, benefits for good behavior, tasks which positively encourage challenges and victory, and others.


Schlüter, T., Winz, O., Henkel, K., Prinz, S., Rademacher, L., Schmaljohann, J., Dautzenberg, K., Cumming, P., Kumakura, Y., Rex, S., Mottaghy, F. M., Gründer, G., & Vernaleken, I. (2013). The impact of dopamine on aggression: an [18F]-FDOPA PET Study in healthy males. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(43), 16889–16896.

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