Impulsive-aggressive traits, serotonin function, and alcohol-enhanced aggression

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aggression; Alcohol Drinking; Ethanol; Humans; Impulsive Behavior; Male; Personality Inventory; Prolactin; Serotonin; Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Although alcohol consumption is involved in most acts of violence, most people do not become violent when they drink. Individuals also respond differently to alcohol on laboratory measures of aggression. The objective of this study was to determine whether individual differences in the effects of alcohol on a laboratory measure of aggression are related to specific personality traits and/or serotonin function, as measured by prolactin response to pharmacochallenge. Psychometric scales for impulsiveness, aggression, and anger, as well as a probe for suspiciousness, were administered to 10 healthy male social drinkers. Trait serotonin function was determined by citalopram challenge. The effect of alcohol on the Point Subtraction Aggression Paradigm was determined by comparing aggression scores with and without 1 g/kg alcohol. Impulsivity scores were significantly correlated with the change in aggressive responding after alcohol. Aggression, anger, and suspiciousness scores were not. Prolactin response did not predict the effect of alcohol on aggressive responding. The results suggest that trait impulsiveness may mediate the effects of alcohol on aggression in normal males.

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Citation: J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Jan;45(1):94-100. Link to article on publisher's site

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