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Lateral Septum Is A Gatekeeper Of Rage In Mice

Update Date: Feb 15, 2016 02:16 AM EST

Changes in parts of the brain can result in "violent, unprovoked outbursts in male mice", according to a study by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine. Such episodes tend to relate to alterations in the brain structure related to controlling anxiety and fear.

Hence, there can be damage and loss of function in the lateral septum, which provokes a series of activities in various other brain regions, leading to "septal rage."

"Our latest findings show how the lateral septum in mice plays a gatekeeping role, simultaneously 'pushing down the brake' and 'lifting the foot off the accelerator' of violent behavior," Dayu Lin, senior investigator of the study, said in a press release.

The part of the brain called the lateral septum is related to the hippocampus, which is that area of the brain that manages emotion and learning. It sends as well as receives electrical signals and also projects a region of the brain that is linked with aggression and hormone generation.

Septal rage has not been spotted among humans, yet studying male aggression in mice can uncover the neural circuitry that is related to controlling violent behavior among humans.

Hence, researchers were able to spark particular groups of brain cells with a surgically inserted probe, that permitted them to change lateral septum activity and "effectively start, stop or restart aggressive" burst in mice.

The lateral septum could be called "the gatekeeper of aggression" says Lin. It tends to activate rage-inhibiting cells and suppresses rage-exciting cells.

"Our research provides what we believe is the first evidence that the lateral septum directly 'turns the volume up or down' in aggression in male mice, and it establishes the first ties between this region and the other key brain regions involved in violent behavior," he said.

The study was published in Feb. 11,2016 issue of Current Biology.

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