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Stress and the Baby Brain

  • Caitlin E. McOmish
    Affiliations
    The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
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  • Jay A. Gingrich
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Jay Gingrich, M.D., Ph.D., Sackler Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director, Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10032
    Affiliations
    The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
    Search for articles by this author
      Increasingly, we are coming to understand that vulnerability to neuropsychiatric morbidities such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, and anxiety disorders are likely encoded in early events of brain development. For the last few decades, we have been successful in identifying what some of these brain-based vulnerabilities look like in adults: altered brain morphology, differences in circuit function and connectivity, and changes in gene expression and function, to name only a few. These insights have been enormously helpful in our quest to better understand how brain function can go awry, but relatively less emphasis has been placed on understanding when in the trajectory of brain development these vulnerabilities are laid down. With recent advances in research, it is becoming clearer that genetic variants and environmental factors collude to influence how the brain develops and result in impaired resilience to these neuropsychiatric conditions, likely at the earliest stages of brain development.
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