Effects of Midbrain Central Gray Lesions on Spontaneous and Electrically Induced Aggression in the Rat

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Aggressive Behavior, Volume 9, Number 2, p.133-155 (1983)



DOI Name (links to online publication)



Aggression; Animal; Animals; behaviour; Hypothalamic; HYPOTHALAMIC AGGRESSION; Hypothalamus; LESION; Locomotion; Male; MALE-RATS; MIDBRAIN CENTRAL GRAY; pharmacology; RAT; Rats; stimulation; Time


Large electrolytic lesions were placed in the midbrain central gray of male rats. Their effects on hypothalamically induced aggression, switch-off behaviour, and locomotion were investigated. A number of these animals were also tested for territorial intermale aggression in order to compare electrically induced and spontaneous aggression. Large lesions resulted in an increase of the current threshold to induce aggression by hypo-thalamic stimulation. Smaller, but still quite large, lesions decreased the threshold current for hypothalamic aggression. After the operation a decrease in the threshold for switch-off was present, both in the experimental and the control group. Current thresholds for locomotion were decreased after the lesions only in the experimental group. Spontaneous aggression was temporarily decreased after the lesion. No indication was found that other behavioural elements of the animal were distorted by the lesion. The parallel between the effects on spontaneous and electrically induced aggression makes it attractive to ascribe a role to the neural circuit of hypothalamus and central gray in territorial aggression. However, even with large lesions the animals were still capable of fighting, hence the central gray is not indispensable. An attempt was made to explain the differential effects that differently sized central gray lesions have on hypothalamic aggression.