Is the male or female brain more vulnerable to triggers of violent behavior?

February 5, 2014
©2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Human behaviors such as violence depend on interactions in the brain between genetic and environmental factors. An individual may be more vulnerable to developing violent behaviors if they have predisposing factors and are then exposed to stress, abuse, or other triggers, especially early in life. The latest research on how differences between the male and female brain contribute to sex differences in violence is explored in Violence and Gender.

The article "Not Hardwired: The Complex Neurobiology of Sex Differences in Violence" describes the complex and flexible biological mechanisms in the brain that lead to the development of behaviors. These include interconnected neural networks, multiple genes, and chemical signals such as hormones and neurotransmitters, which can be modified by . Brain structure, function, and connectivity can all differ between men and women, affecting how they may change on exposure to stressful or abusive triggers.

"Neurobiologist Dr. Debra Niehoff explains the amazing interaction of how our brains, genetics, and environmental influences can interact and serve as the genesis for ," says Editor-in-Chief of Violence and Gender Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Forensic Behavioral Consultant, and Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigator Analyst (ret.). "This holistic view of the origin of means that reducing violence will not be a simple fix because it does not have a single origin or cause. The temptation to delineate a male and female brain must be resisted because there is overlap between the two. With more research will come greater insight and knowledge about the biological and environmental causes of violence. With more knowledge will come answers; answers will lead to solutions, and with solutions will come prevention."

Explore further: Study looks at the impact of violence on children

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