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Rev Neurol. 2010 Mar 1;50(5):291-9.

[Neuropsychology of impulsive aggression].

[Article in Spanish]

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Fiscalía y Juzgado de Menoresde Toledo, Ministerio de Justicia, Toledo, España.



Structural and functional abnormalities of the cerebral circuits involved in affect regulation are associated with the display of violent behaviors. The prefrontal cortex hypofunction linked to the subcortical structural hyperactivity is related to impulsive aggression.


To review the current state of the neuropsychological studies concerning the possible dysfunctions in individuals who show violent and antisocial behaviors, considering the contributions for prevention and treatment.


There is more and more evidence in favour of a neuroanatomical substrate which may represent a vulnerability factor in the expression of aggressive and antisocial behaviors. Recent studies with neuroimaging techniques show the crucial role of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, which are cerebral circuits in charge of affect regulation and the origins of impulsive aggressive behaviors. The importance of the functional balance of these regions is highlighted, as well as the role of impulsivity and abnormal affect control in the display of these behaviors. In addition, a view of differential underlying mechanisms of impulsive and premeditated aggression is supported.


The study of the possible neuroanatomical and functional substrates of the impulsive aggressive behaviors, linked to the study of the psychosocial factors may be relevant from neuropsychological perspective. This comprehensive view may contribute to a better understanding of antisocial behavior.

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