Prefrontal Dysfunction and Impulsive Aggression: A Meta-Analysis

Vickie Luttrell, Drury University
Jana Bufkin, Drury College

Although the idea that the expression of aggression may be related to brain function is not a new one, recent research in neuropsychology and neuroimaging has helped clarify biological correlates of impulsive aggression and violence. In particular, different behavioral neuroscience paradigms are beginning to converge on the conclusion that prefrontal dysfunction may disrupt the regulation of aggressive impulses, thereby increasing the probability of physical violence toward others and oneself. In this meta-analysis, we assess the magnitude of the hypothesized link between prefrontal dysfunction and impulsive aggression. The analysis will include neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies of patients with ostensible prefrontal injury as well as studies of violent and criminal populations who do not have discernible brain trauma. Using a biopsychosocial framework, implications for future research are provided.

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Updated 05/20/2006