Are some people more aggressive than others?

Scientists have identified several different brain chemicals that affect your mood. Some people may inherit variants of genes that alter the levels of these chemicals, which could make them more easily annoyed. But so far, scientists have identified just one family in the entire world who have a gene variant that seems to be associated with aggressive behaviour.

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Several different brain chemicals affect your mood.

A violent family?

In 1993, Dutch scientists found a family in which several men seemed prone to unusually aggressive behaviour. They all had a variant of a gene that usually makes a protein responsible for breaking down chemicals in the brain. The affected men had abnormally high levels of these chemicals, which the researchers think may have caused their aggression. However, this gene variant has not yet been found in any other families and so it could just be a coincidence.

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Ribbon diagram of an MAOA protein.


Principal Funder:

Wellcome trust

Major Sponsors:

GlaxoSmithKline life technologies