|Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997 Page 6|
High levels of the male hormone testosterone have been linked to increased aggression in prison inmates (see related article, Crime Times, Vol. 1, No. 3, Page 2) and in athletes participating in competitive sports. A new study indicates that elevated testosterone levels also play a role in aggressive behavior occurring in elderly men with dementia.
Claudia Orengo et al. measured the plasma free testosterone levels of 13 men with various forms of dementia, and administered two tests-the overt aggression scale, or OAS, and the Cohen-Mansfield agitation inventory, or CMAI-to each subject. The researche e e ers factored in subjects' ages, since testosterone levels normally decrease with age. Their data, Orengo et al. report, showed that "free testosterone correlated significantly with the total CMAI score, the CMAI physical aggression subscale, and the OAS s s s s subscale of physical aggression toward others."
The researchers note that while higher-testosterone subjects showed more physical aggression than other subjects, a similar pattern was not seen for physically non-aggressive agitation. Orengo et al. say that "it is tempting to specu u u ulate that as higher cortical controls deteriorate in dementia, aggressive behaviors that are modulated by testosterone levels may become more manifest."
The researchers caution that their results are preliminary, and that their study included too few subjects for them to determine the effects of various forms of dementia on aggression. Research published earlier this year (see related article, Crime Times, Vol. 3, No. 2, Page 3) indicates that dementias involving the frontal and temporal lobes cause aggression more often than other forms of dementia.
"Correlation of testosterone with aggression in demented elderly men," Claudia Orengo, Mark Kunik, Husam Ghusn, and Stuart Yudofsky, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, Vol. 185, No. 5, May 1997, pp. 349-351. Address: Claudia A. Orengo, Vetera a a ans Affairs Med. Ctr., Dept. of Psychiatry (116A), 2002 Holcombe, Houston, TX 77030.