Scientists on Thursday announced a new study that shows a direct link between serotonin levels and the ability to regulate anger.
The research study, conducted at Cambridge University in Britain discovered that when serotonin levels are low it can become more difficult for the brain to control emotional responses to anger.
The study isn’t the first to discover a link between aggression and lowered serotonin levels however it is the first to show that the chemical is responsible, at least in part, to regulating behavior.
Published in the journal Biological Psychiatry researchers hope to discover new treatments for psychiatric disorders that involve violence.
To test serotonin levels researchers put volunteers on varying diets to regulate their serotonin levels, during serotonin depletion days they were given a mixture of amino acids that lacked tryptophan, a substance required to build serotonin. During placebo days participants were given the correct amount of tryptophan.
After administering the patients diet and drug cocktail a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to scan each persons brain as they examined faces with various emotions such as sad, angry and neutral.
The study found that specific regions of the emotional limbic system (the amygdala) did not communicate with the frontal lobes as well when serotonin levels were low.
Researchers hope that their study will lead to better treatment in patients with aggressive tendencies.