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Ciba Found Symp. 1996;194:45-56; discussion 57-60.

Aggression from a developmental perspective: genes, environments and interactions.

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Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina, Chrapel Hill 27599-8115, USA.


Genetic influences on the social behaviours of non-human mammals are ubiquitous, powerful and readily detected. But demonstrations that social behaviours are influenced by genes constitute only part of the story. Developmental findings have helped complete the picture. Specifically, these studies show that: (1) genetic effects for aggressive behaviours are highly malleable over the course of development; (2) genetic influences on aggressive behaviour are more dynamic, easily achieved and open to rapid manipulation than has been recognized in current models of social evolution and behavioural genetics; (3) developmental timing has a significant impact upon the nature of the genetic effects observed in aggressive behaviours. These empirical results are consistent with the view that social behaviours are among the first features to be influenced by genetic selection and by environmental experience. Social actions have distinctive properties in adaptation because they organize the space between the organism and the environment and promote rapid, selective and novel accommodations. The modern integrative view of the development of individual-in-context brings attention to the correlation between constraints within and external to individuals. This paper reviews findings on how these processes become integrated over time in individuals and species, and their implications for the nurture of nature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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