A study shows how this steroid hormone affects the brain and why it reacts irrationally to certain impulses.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has a remarkable importance in the sexual sphere, since sexual maturation depends on its segregation, as well as its appetite. On the other hand, like any steroid, it has an important anabolic function by influencing the formation of body mass, muscles, as well as influencing bone strength.
Despite the false belief, these hormones are not exclusive to the male sex, since they also have females, although in a much smaller proportion because the main effects of testosterone are related to male sex, maturation, characterization and sexual libido.
However, studies on the influence of this hormone in certain aspects have focused more on the effects on women. This is the case of the influence that testosterone can have on aggression. For these reasons, a study published in Science Daily focused on how it affected those with more hormones of this type: male sex.
All participants viewed images with faces that showed anger
This research, coordinated by the psychologist of the University of Nipissing Justin M. Carré, has focused on the study of the effects of testosterone, in healthy men, on the response to the threat. To perform this task, 16 young volunteers were chosen, in good health and with the same testosterone levels (to achieve the latter they were ingesting a medication that suppresses their segregation for two days).
The procedure followed was characterized by providing some placebo and other testosterone to restore normal values, then all participants viewed images with faces that showed anger or aggression and, while, they underwent an MRI to see their reaction.
So they reacted
The differences were obvious and remarkable, since those who had been given testosterone were noted a high reaction compared to those of placebo, since they activated with great force the functions of the hypothalamus and the central gray matter.
These parts of the brain are those that most relate to our “animal” behavior, that is, those that have the basic functions to survive and maintain the species and not so much the rational behavior that is presupposed to the human being. One of those tasks is the response to the dangers, the aggressive behavior or the escape mechanism.
Abusing steroid substances can increase aggressiveness and competitive behaviors
The certainty reached in the study, especially when comparing the disparity of effects between those who ingested the placebo compared to those who actually took testosterone, explains for the first time, according to Carré, that the increase in testosterone levels can have very high effects in the patients. brain circuits that are related to the processing of human aggression and threat.
For John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, these results have great utility to better understand that irrational, but absolutely natural, reaction of flight or aggression, especially in the case of men, as sex with a greater amount of this type of hormones .
But there is also a negative aspect that can be deduced from this study, since this current response occurs in those cases in which there are regular and stable levels of this hormone, but currently, with the increase in the intake of steroids In order to favor the strengthening or increase of the hormonal levels of older people, it may be possible to abuse them that ends up favoring the appearance of a behavior that is too competitive and aggressive, which of course is a risk in the face of human behavior.