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Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jun 15;69(12):1153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.02.032. Epub 2011 May 4.

Corticolimbic function in impulsive aggressive behavior.

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  • 1Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


Building on animal and human lesion evidence, neuroimaging studies are increasingly identifying abnormalities in corticolimbic circuits mediating aggressive behavior. This review focuses on three neural systems involved in impulsive/reactive aggression: 1) subcortical neural systems that support the production of aggressive impulses; 2) decision-making circuits and social-emotional information processing circuits that evaluate the consequences of aggressing or not aggressing; and 3) frontoparietal regions that are involved in regulating emotions and impulsive motivational urges. We review psychiatric disorders, including borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, characterized by elevated reactive aggression, focusing on abnormalities in these three neural systems.

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