Significance of the Gene-Environment Interface for Brain Development
Brain development in humans extends over a very lengthy time period, initially in utero and subsequently embracing attachment interactions with the mother, social interactions with peers, and the emotional turmoil of puberty. Puberty is a period of development when those cortical regions concerned with forward planning and emotional control undergo synaptic pruning and reorganization of connection strengths. Each life phase is developmentally important in shaping and being shaped by the maternal and social environments. Although genetics forms the scaffold for brain development, the detail of connectivities is determined by the kind of environment in which the brain functions. The brain, more than any other organ, is a product of gene-environment interaction. It is a product of the pre- and postnatal niche in which individuals develop and survive. This chapter examines the developmental life phases of the human brain. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.
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