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IU Study Links Short Winter Days to Increased Aggression

Cold snowy landscape

Indiana University researchers have linked short winter days to increased aggression in female hamsters.

The Siberian hamsters were chosen for the experiment based on the similarity of their adrenal glands to humans’.

Nikki Rendon, a Ph.D student studying biology at Indiana University, is the lead author of the study.

“More women are affected by seasonal affective disorder and depression than males are,” she says. “This is one of the first studies to really look at how females respond to these conditions across the seasons.”

According to the study, melatonin, a hormone that rises in the body during darkness and falls during daylight, directly affects the adrenal glands in females.

“Typically, a lot of studies on Melatonin are looked at within the brain,” Rendon says. “But what we’re showing is that this hormone, typically thought of as a brain hormone, is acting on the adrenal gland.”

The produced sex hormone, DHEA, is known to affect aggression levels in mammals.

Professional sports competitions have banned its use by athletes. Future research efforts could examine the causes and treatment of inappropriate aggression in humans.

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