Violence and the Brain: An Urgent Need for Research

While the social sciences have devoted much attention to the origin and prevention of violence, relatively little biomedical study has been conducted. Human behavior is determined by a combination of genetic and environmental influences governing brain structure and function. Violence, therefore, ultimately derives from the operations of the brain, and recognizing the importance of neurobiology will inform and invigorate study of this urgent problem. A working group under the auspices of the A

Christopher Filley
Apr 1, 2001
While the social sciences have devoted much attention to the origin and prevention of violence, relatively little biomedical study has been conducted. Human behavior is determined by a combination of genetic and environmental influences governing brain structure and function. Violence, therefore, ultimately derives from the operations of the brain, and recognizing the importance of neurobiology will inform and invigorate study of this urgent problem.

A working group under the auspices of the Aspen Neurobehavioral Conference, a meeting devoted to the exploration of the impact of brain function on human behavior, developed a consensus statement on the neurobehavioral aspects of violence. As a result of two sessions in 1998 and 1999, we and our colleagues prepared a critical summary on what is known and what remains to be learned about the contribution of brain dysfunction to violent behavior.1

Violence is ubiquitous in society--just consider action movies, video games, graphic news...