Morphometric analysis of amygdla and hippocampus shape in impulsively aggressive and healthy control subjects

Emil F. Coccaro*, Royce Lee, Michael McCloskey, John G. Csernansky, Lei Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Impulsive aggressive behavior is thought to be facilitated by activation of the limbic brain, particularly the amygdala and hippocampus., Functional imaging studies suggest abnormalities in limbic brain activity during emotional information processing in impulsively aggressive subjects with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). It is not known if IED is associated with altered amygdala and hippocampus volume and shape. Methods: We examined the volume and shape of the amygdala-hippocampal complex, using morphometric analysis of high resolution structural 3T MR scans in healthy control (HC: n = 73) subjects without history of Axis I or II psychiatric conditions and in subjects with IED (n = 67). Results: While no volume differences were observed between HC and IED subjects, a significant level of morphometric deformation, suggestive of cell loss, in both amygdala and hippocampal structures was observed bilaterally in IED subjects. Analysis of a canonical variable that used the first 10 eigenvectors from both sides of the brain revealed that these morphometric deformations in the IED subjects were not due the presence of confounding variables or to comorbidities among IED subjects. Conclusions: These data reveal that IED is associated with a significant loss of neurons in both the amygdala and hippocampus. These changes may play a role in the functional abnormalities observed in previous fMRI studies and in the pathophysiology of impulsive aggressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-86
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Aggression
  • Amygdala
  • Hippocampus
  • IED

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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