Research Topic

Biology of Aggression

About this Research Topic

Aggressive behavior is an innate, highly conserved behavior that is key for survival and is believed to have evolved in a context of competition over scarce or valuable resources. In many species, losing fights results in a change in social status that can have lasting consequences, and animals that have lost agonistic encounters are often used to study the physiological and behavioral effects of social defeat. Across species, competitive aggression and territoriality are considered male-specific behaviors. However, competitive aggression has also been observed in females although it is less common and much less studied in laboratory settings.
Animal models have been extremely valuable for our understanding of the genetic, neuronal and endocrine mechanisms underlying aggressive behavior. In recent years, technical developments such as optogenetics have allowed for a greater understanding of the neuronal substrates of aggression in mice. However, research in animals that have been placed in more naturalistic environments highlight the importance of widening the behavioral paradigms that are employed to characterize aggressive behavior towards same and opposite sex individuals.

Besides the importance of basic research on aggressive behavior, there are clear and evident implications for health, as misplaced, extreme or persistent forms of aggression are common elements of psychiatric disease. In recent years, the remarkable process made in elucidating the neuronal circuits underlying aggression in mice has generated widespread interest. However, significant progress has also been made in other aspects of this behavior, such as the role of semi natural environments in the manifestation of aggression or the genetic contributions to pathological aggression. The goal of this Research Topics is to present a comprehensive array of current research on the biological basis of aggressive behavior across a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate animals.

This Research Topic is focused on current research aimed at exploring the molecular, genetic, neural or endocrinological basis of aggressive behavior using a diverse array of vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms. The breadth of approaches allows a range of contributions, including:

• Neural circuits that control the manifestation or intensity of aggressive behavior.
• Sexual dimorphism in aggression.
• Modulation by biogenic amines and/ or peptidergic systems.
• Genetic control of aggressive behavior and molecular mechanisms involved, from model systems to humans.
• Role of endocrine systems in male and female aggression.
• Ethologically relevant environments vs laboratory models.


Keywords: Aggression, Dominance, Territoriality, Animal Models, Sexual Dimorphism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Aggressive behavior is an innate, highly conserved behavior that is key for survival and is believed to have evolved in a context of competition over scarce or valuable resources. In many species, losing fights results in a change in social status that can have lasting consequences, and animals that have lost agonistic encounters are often used to study the physiological and behavioral effects of social defeat. Across species, competitive aggression and territoriality are considered male-specific behaviors. However, competitive aggression has also been observed in females although it is less common and much less studied in laboratory settings.
Animal models have been extremely valuable for our understanding of the genetic, neuronal and endocrine mechanisms underlying aggressive behavior. In recent years, technical developments such as optogenetics have allowed for a greater understanding of the neuronal substrates of aggression in mice. However, research in animals that have been placed in more naturalistic environments highlight the importance of widening the behavioral paradigms that are employed to characterize aggressive behavior towards same and opposite sex individuals.

Besides the importance of basic research on aggressive behavior, there are clear and evident implications for health, as misplaced, extreme or persistent forms of aggression are common elements of psychiatric disease. In recent years, the remarkable process made in elucidating the neuronal circuits underlying aggression in mice has generated widespread interest. However, significant progress has also been made in other aspects of this behavior, such as the role of semi natural environments in the manifestation of aggression or the genetic contributions to pathological aggression. The goal of this Research Topics is to present a comprehensive array of current research on the biological basis of aggressive behavior across a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate animals.

This Research Topic is focused on current research aimed at exploring the molecular, genetic, neural or endocrinological basis of aggressive behavior using a diverse array of vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms. The breadth of approaches allows a range of contributions, including:

• Neural circuits that control the manifestation or intensity of aggressive behavior.
• Sexual dimorphism in aggression.
• Modulation by biogenic amines and/ or peptidergic systems.
• Genetic control of aggressive behavior and molecular mechanisms involved, from model systems to humans.
• Role of endocrine systems in male and female aggression.
• Ethologically relevant environments vs laboratory models.


Keywords: Aggression, Dominance, Territoriality, Animal Models, Sexual Dimorphism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

04 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

04 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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