Breakthrough in new treatments for combating impulsive aggression in individuals
Bortolato studied individuals with high levels of uncontrolled aggression. He examined the neurobiological basis of impulsive aggression, so as to develop treatments to combat the same. Pathological aggression account to 60% of the 4.5 million violent crimes committed each year. It is a key factor in suicide in male adolescents. The WHO reports a $200 billion per year in combating costs including medical expenses, legal services and incarceration.
Researchers have recently made headway in their search for biomarkers for the same, with enzyme MAO A as a possible biomarker. In 2011, the team developed the first animal model of this genetic-environment interaction. 2012 saw a breakthrough with identification of a brain receptor that malfunctions in hostile environment. When the brain receptor was shut down in mice models the excess aggression disappeared. Bortolato also demonstrated impact of a combination of low MAO A and early life stress to learning and memory.