The Neurobiology of Violence and Victimization

  • William P. French

The primary purpose of this chapter is to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the neurobiology of violence and victimization, especially as it relates to school violence. In recent years, progress in neurobiological study designs, imaging techniques, and animal models has led to an expansion in our knowledge and understanding of the neurobiological structures, chemicals, circuits, and systems that regulate the expression of violence and victimization. However, more than simply describing the nature and function of these biological substrates, it is important to examine how environmental factors, especially early childhood experiences, influence (and are influenced by) the formation and function of these neurobiological systems. The expression of violence and victimization is best viewed within a developmental context beginning with gene expression in the embryo and continuing throughout the lifespan (Conner, 2002; Mash & Dozois, 1996). While most of the information presented in this chapter will pertain to research that is applicable to children and adolescents in their general environment, it will, for the most part, not directly be drawn from school violence literature. Therefore, while it is hoped the following discussion will provide pertinent information to the study of school violence, limits to the extrapolation of below data to the study of school violence should be kept in mind.


Conditioned Stimulus Antisocial Behavior Oppositional Defiant Disorder Reactive Aggression Proactive Aggression 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • William P. French
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of KentuckyKentuckyUSA

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