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Elevated childhood serotonergic function protects against adolescent aggression in disruptive boys.

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Psychology Department, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11367, USA.



This longitudinal study examined whether responsiveness of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in childhood predicts adolescent aggression.


Boys (N = 33) with disruptive behavior disorders who received assessments of central 5-HT function via the prolactin response to fenfluramine between 1990 and 1994 when they were 7 to 11 years old were re-evaluated clinically on average 6.7 years later.


After accounting for baseline aggression, early 5-HT function accounted for a significant proportion of variance in adolescent aggression. This prospective relationship of childhood 5-HT function with adolescent aggression (r = -0.71) and antisocial behavior (r = -0.59) was found primarily in adolescents who were aggressive during childhood. Irrespective of childhood aggression, no child with high 5-HT function was particularly aggressive at follow-up.


Low childhood 5-HT function appears important, but not sufficient, for the emergence of adolescent aggression. However, early high 5-HT function may protect against adolescent violence and aggression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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