New York, Jan 18: The consequences may not always be encouraging, but new research shows that aggression, on its own, is positive and motivating.
Scientists have now proved that the brain processes aggression as a reward-- much like sex, food and drugs-- offering insight into the fascination for violent sports and our propensity to fight. ''Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food,'' Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University said.
''We have found that the 'reward pathway' in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved.
''It is well known that dopamine is produced in response to rewarding stimuli such as food, sex and drugs of abuse,'' Dr Maria Couppis, who conducted the study as her doctoral thesis at Vanderbilt, said.
''What we have now found is that it also serves as positive reinforcement for aggression,'' she said.
The experiments-- conducted on a pair of mice-- are the first to demonstrate a link between behaviour and the activity of dopamine receptors in response to an aggressive event, Science Daily reported.
''We learned from these experiments that an individual will intentionally seek out an aggressive encounter solely because they experience a rewarding sensation from it,'' Prof Kennedy said.
''This shows for the first time that aggression, on its own, is motivating, and that the well-known positive reinforcer dopamine plays a critical role,'' he added.