The effects of vasopressin deficiency on aggression and impulsiveness in male and female rats

Anna Fodor, Beata Barsvari, Mano Aliczki, Zoltan Balogh, Dora Zelena, Steven R. Goldberg, Jozsef Haller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


The role of vasopressin in aggression received much attention in recent years. However, vasopressin has complex roles on social behavior, which are affected by social experience, motivation and hormonal background, suggesting that its effects depend on the condition of subjects. This hypothesis was tested here by studying the impact of vasopressin deficiency on aggressiveness in reproductively naive and reproductively experienced males, as well as in lactating females, with special reference to the patterns and contexts of attack behavior. We also studied effects on impulsiveness, a behavioral feature strongly related to aggression. Vasopressin deficiency did not affect aggressiveness in reproductively experienced males, decreased the share of violent attacks in reproductively inexperienced males without affecting total attack counts, and suppressed maternal aggression in both early and late phases of lactation; violent forms of attack were decreased in the latter but not the former phase. Changes in aggression appeared unrelated to general changes in maternal behaviors. Impulsivity in the delay discounting task was markedly decreased by vasopressin deficiency in lactating females but not males. Taken together, our findings confirm that vasopressin has an impact on aggressiveness, but show that this impact depends on the condition of subjects, and suggest that the effects of vasopressin on maternal aggression develop in conjunction with impulsivity. Interestingly, overall effects on aggression and specific effects on violent attacks dissociated in both males and females, which hints to the possibility that vasopressin has distinct roles in the development of escalated forms of aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Aggression
  • Brattleboro rat
  • Impulsiveness
  • Maternal aggression
  • Resident-intruder test
  • Vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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