Ventromedial Tegmental Lesions Abolish Offense Without Disturbing Predation or Defense

by David B. Adams
Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Reprinted from Physiology and Behavior
Volume 38, Number 2, Pages 165-168
Copyright 1986 with permission from Elsevier Science

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0ffense, defense, and predation, three kinds of aggressive behavior, are differentially affected by lesions of the ventromedial tegmentum of the brain stem of the rat. The lesions abolish offense while leaving defense and predation undisturbed. The offense behavior against another strange male, including bite-and-kick attack, offensive sideways posture, and offensive upright posture, was totally abolished, while the rats showed intact motor patterns of defensive upright posture, chasing, and killing bite in the tests for defense and predation. It is argued that these results support a motivational systems analysis of mammalian aggressive behavior. According to such an analysis, offense, defense, and predation are controlled by discrete motivational mechanisms located in different brain stem regions.

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