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The development of antisocial behavior: psychobiological and environmental factors and gene-environment interactions
INTRODUCTION. Antisocial behavior is a complex phenomenon with strong implications in neurology and psychiatry. In order to study the ontogenetic development of antisocial behavior, we must check for the existence of physiological mechanisms related to it, and to understand its environmentally-modulated functioning.
AIM. To review the state-of-the-art of the development of antisocial behavior, and especially, of the interaction between environmental and genetic factors. DEVELOPMENT. Recent research has highlighted certain brain alterations linked to violent behavior, either at structural, or functional or biochemical levels. Genetic research has also made some advances in this field, discovering some genes –i.e. monoamineoxidase A (MAOA)– related to antisocial behavior. However, the importance of environmental factors in its development must not be left behind. Recent studies have shown that individuals carrying a low transcriptional activity allele of the MAOA gene, and that also suffered severe maltreatment are more prone to antisocial behavior. This interaction is biologically relevant, as there are underlying biological mechanisms that may be able to explain the ethiopathogeny of antisocial behavior.