Earlier in development at the DNA level, the number of CAG repeats in the androgen receptor gene seems to play a role in the expression of aggressive behavior. Neuroimaging techniques in adult males have shown that testosterone activates the amygdala enhancing its emotional activity and its resistance to prefrontal restraining control.
Research suggests that this treatment may also be an effective anti-depressant treatment. It’s thought that testosterone greatly influences the development of many characteristics considered to be male traits. It helps increase muscle bulk, bone mass, physical strength, and the amount of body hair. In hypogonadal men treated with testosterone, levels of PSA rise usually up to levels of eugonadal men .
All the above studies have methodological limitations because of the small number of subjects and samples. More creditability comes from a large survey conducted on 4179 normal men which showed higher normal values in subjects with aggressive personality or antisocial conduct . It is of interest, however, that the administration of high doses of testosterone in normal men had no effect on the self reported aggression scores of the subjects. Atavistic residues of aggressive behavior prevailing in animal life, determined by testosterone, remain attenuated in man and suppressed through familial and social inhibitions.
However, it still manifests itself in various intensities and forms from; thoughts, anger, verbal aggressiveness, competition, dominance behavior, to physical violence. Testosterone plays a significant role in the arousal of these behavioral manifestations in the brain centers involved in aggression and on the development of the muscular system that enables their realization. Several field studies have also shown that testosterone levels increase during the aggressive phases of sports games. In more sensitive laboratory paradigms, it has been observed that participant’s testosterone rises in the winners of; competitions, dominance trials or in confrontations with factitious opponents. The action of testosterone on the brain begins in the embryonic stage.
Testosterone activates the subcortical areas of the brain to produce aggression, while cortisol and serotonin act antagonistically with testosterone to reduce its effects. Although rare, high testosterone levels could be caused by medical conditions or testosterone replacement therapy. Learn more about the symptoms of high testosterone and how it’s treated. The effects of testosterone replacement therapy on mood can vary. Men with hypogonadism reported improved mood and well-being, and reduced fatigue and irritability.
Most of the studies, however, were conducted by self reported questionnaires, the accuracy of which is questionable. In more sensitive laboratory paradigms it was observed that a participant’s testosterone rises in the winners of competitions and dominance trials, or in confrontations with factitious opponents. This created the theory that fluctuations of testosterone may be more significant than basal values in the importance of testosterone estimation in relation to aggression. On the other hand, the rapid increase of testosterone in the above situations entitles testosterone to be characterized as a stress hormone.
This effect is opposed by the action of cortisol which facilitates prefrontal area cognitive control on impulsive tendencies aroused in the subcortical structures. The degree of impulsivity is regulated by serotonin inhibiting receptors, and with the intervention of this neurotransmitter the major agents of the neuroendocrine influence on the brain process of aggression forms a triad.
The goal of this review was to highlight the clinical data and the neuroimaging findings in man concerning the relationship between testosterone and aggressive behavior. Testosterone plays a significant role in the arousal of these behavioral manifestations in the brain centers involved in aggression and on the development of the muscular system that effects their realization. There is evidence that testosterone levels are higher in individuals with aggressive behavior, such as prisoners who have committed violent crimes. Several field studies have also shown that testosterone increases during the aggressive phases of sports games.
Although inconsistent, some studies have found that high estrogen is associated with dementia in older men. It is also associated with depression; a 2018 research study examining the connection between obesity and depression noted an increase in depressive symptoms in men with higher estrogen levels regardless of body mass index . Although the study did not establish a definitive causal relationship, the association is intriguing.
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