Neurobiology of Violence

  • Mirko ManchiaEmail author
  • Linda Booij
  • Federica Pinna
  • Janice Wong
  • Florian Zepf
  • Stefano Comai
Part of the Comprehensive Approach to Psychiatry book series (CAP, volume 1)


The behavioural manifestations of violence are heterogeneous and result from the complex interplay of neurobiological, social, individual, economic and environmental causes. In this chapter, we have summarised the neurobiological mechanisms of violence, including neurochemical and metabolomic imbalances as well as neuroimaging and genetic/epigenetics underpinnings. Current knowledge suggests that different forms of violent behaviour (e.g. reactive versus proactive) depend on the activation of different brain circuits and neurotransmitter systems. Among them, the more solid evidence points toward the serotonin (5-HT) system in terms of changes in 5-HT levels and 5-HT receptor function, but also genetic and epigenetic modifications at the level of the enzymes involved in the synthesis, degradation and/or reuptake of 5-HT. However, no predictive biomarkers of violent behaviour have yet been identified. For this reason, future studies in large and controlled clinical and community populations examining genetic and epigenetic markers as well as behavioural-cognitive, brain imaging and metabolomics signatures of violence are warranted.


Biosignatures Biomarkers Neuroimaging Genetics Epigenetics Metabolomics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirko Manchia
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Linda Booij
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Federica Pinna
    • 1
  • Janice Wong
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Florian Zepf
    • 9
  • Stefano Comai
    • 5
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Medical Sciences and Public HealthUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research CentreMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Centre & Discipline of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and PsychotherapyThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  7. 7.Telethon Kids InstitutePerthAustralia
  8. 8.Department of HealthChild and Adolescent Health Service—Mental HealthPerthAustralia
  9. 9.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyJena University HospitalJenaGermany
  10. 10.San Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute UniversityMilanItaly

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