• Creating the Future

    The Hector Fellow Academy initiates innovative research projects on latest scientific problems.

Towards Understanding the Genetic Basis of Appetitive Aggressive Behavior

Jan Gerwin – Hector Fellow Axel Meyer, Hector Fellow Thomas Elbert

Aggressive behavior can be of two distinct origins: (1) reactive aggression, as a response to threatening or dangerous situations and (2) appetitive aggression, that is motivated by intrinsic factors, for example positive feelings through the exertion of violence.

Even though much is known about the hormonal and neuronal pathways involved in aggressive behaviors, its remains unclear how intrinsic and extrinsic factors shape aggressive behaviors and how those factors affect the transition from reactive to appetitive aggression. Fighting fish (genus Betta) have been used in behavioral studies since the 1980’s and are a perfect model to study aggressive behaviors.

Especially males are highly aggressive towards conspecifics which is why they are used for combative interactions (similar to cockfights) in some countries in Southeast Asia. In the course of this project we want to find out why some fighting fish are more aggressive than others by using behavioral and genetic approaches. By doing so we hope to get a better understanding of aggressive behavior in general.