The Aggression Systems
Dynamics of Aggression - Introduction Page 21

Table of Contents


Preface Pages 1 - 2


Human aggression - introduction Pages 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8


Evolution of aggression - introduction Pages  9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14


Brain mechanisms of aggression - introduction Pages 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20


Dynamics of aggression - introduction Pages 21 - 22 - 23

Up until this point we have considered a static view of the aggression systems, but that is no more true to life than a still frame of a movie is to the richness of the entire film. Unfortunately, our written language does not lend itself well to the description of dynamic events, and the crystal-like drawings that I have presented of the structure of motivational systems cannot describe the rapid dynamic operation of those systems, let alone their systematic changes over time.

The papers presented in this section will take the crystal-like structure of motivational systems and animate them with the types of dynamic changes that transform them in various scales of time: on a second-by-second basis; on the hour-by-hour and day-by-day basis of learning and hormonal changes; and on the seasonal and life history changes associated with reproductive states.

In the first paper, A Dynamic Psychoneural Analysis of Offense Behavior in the Rat, a very simple set of data are analyzed in terms of their most likely neural substrate. Four short and characteristic behavioral sequences are analyzed, representing strong, moderate and weak offensive attacks (the moderate attack being represented twice, once against a strong, once against a weak opponent). Since there are only three or four motor patterns in each sequence, the basic data are quite simple - only ten transitions from one behavior to another, and since four of these are repetitions, there are only six different transitions in all. And yet, when we come to analyze the neural events underlying this seemingly simple set of data, we find that many pages of complex drawings are required.

When we analyze a complete experimental situation, as is done in the second paper for intermale stumptail macaque encounters, we find that life is far more complex than the model considered in the first paper. Because of the fact that there are many different motor patterns, and several different motivational systems in operation, the number of behavioral transitions within each animal leaps from six in the first paper to 60 in this paper. But this, we find, is a simplification because it considers only one of several channels of communication (acts, vocalizations, facial expression, posture, eye contact, etc) that are operating simultaneously and with non-random relationships to each other. Next we look at the interactions between two animals and find another 49 significant behavioral transitions. And we note in the discussion that many important behavioral events are composed of triadic rather than dyadic relationships. Finally, as also noted in the discussion, the experimental situation itself is simplified because we have considered only adult males and we have looked at them in a very restricted environment over a very brief period of time.

(Continued on next page)

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