»Knowledge about aggression aetiology is limited and current treatment strategies are insufficient.«

Aggression is a basic physiological trait with important roles throughout evolution, both in defence and predation. When expressed in humans in the wrong context, aggression leads to maladjustment, social impairment and crime.

Despite this, knowledge about aggression aetiology is limited and current treatment strategies are insufficient. Contingent to a subdivision into impulsive and instrumental subtypes, we investigate the aetiology of maladaptive aggression in paediatric conduct disorders most strongly predisposing to pathological aggression, Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Conduct Disorder (CD), and in the general population.

We employ highly innovative approaches in humans and animal models and maximize the project's output by optimally balancing the use of large, existing data sets with new data acquisition. Through this, we build a knowledge chain from molecule to behaviour, investigating known and novel genes, gene-networks and their epigenetic interactions, and mapping their mode of action from the molecular via the cellular to the brain-circuit level. This is accompanied by highly powered analyses of the neural substrates of the aggression subtypes.

Based on innovative bioinformatic multimodal data integration, our interdisciplinary research will lead to novel, accurate algorithms for reliable aggression prediction, which will be validated in existing longitudinal studies in children and tested for their predictive value in adult outcome. In addition to this approach towards prevention, we test promising non-pharmacological biofeedback for personalised treatment and prevention of overt aggression. For the identification of novel pharmacological compounds in aggression treatment, we introduce a new animal model, the zebrafish.