New research on mice shows the brain processes aggressive behavior as it does other rewards. Mice sought violence, in fact, picking fights for no apparent reason other than the rewarding feeling.
The mouse brain is thought to be analogous to the human brain in this study, which could shed light on our fascination with brutal sports as well as our own penchant for the classic bar brawl.
In fact, the researcher say, humans seem to crave violence just like they do sex, food or drugs.
Scientists have known that mice and other animals are drawn to fights. Until now, they didn't know how the brain was involved.
The new study, detailed online this week in the journal Psychopharmacology, reveals the same clusters of brain cells involved in other rewards are also behind the craving for violence.
"Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food," said study team member Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. "We have found that the reward pathway in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved."